Robredo slams tighter House SALN access: 'Why hide?'

MANILA, Philippines – The House of Representatives' move to make it harder for people to check lawmakers' wealth is a big blow to transparency and accountability, said Vice President Leni Robredo on Sunday, February 3.

The House now requires the approval of the plenary before a lawmaker's Statement of Assets, Liabilities, and Net Worth (SALN) can be released.

Each SALN request will also cost P300, or a total of P87,300 for the SALNs of all 291 members of the House.

"Parang lalong binabawasan ang pagtitiwala ng tao sa kanila. Kaya sana hindi iyon...sana mabago pa. Dahil malaking, malaking dagok na naman iyon sa mga initiatives natin for transparency and accountability," Robredo said in her Biserbisyong Leni radio show on Sunday.

(This diminishes the people's trust in them. So I hope it's not [final]...I hope it can still be changed. Because this is a big blow again to our initiatives for transparency and accountability.)

According to Robredo, the new requirement that legislators themselves should have the final say on sharing their colleagues' SALNs goes against public interest and effectively gives them an "exemption." (READ: Why is it so difficult to access SALNs of House lawmakers?)

"Para gawan ng parang exemption, ginawang mas istrikto para sa mga members ng Kongreso. Hindi iyon makatarungan kasi gusto bang sabihin mas espesyal sila kaysa sa ibang mga public servants?" said Robredo, a former representative of Camarines Sur's 3rd District.

(It's as if there's an exemption, that the rules are stricter for Congress members. It's not right because do they want to say that they're more special compared to other public servants?)

She added: "Gusto bang sabihin mas kailangan silang ma-protect kumpara sa ordinaryong naninilbihan sa pamahalaan? Bakit kailangan may itago?"

(Are they saying that they need to be protected more than other ordinary workers of the government? Why the need to hide?) –

Rambo Talabong

Rambo Talabong covers security, crime, and the city of Manila for Rappler. He was chosen as a Jaime V. Ongpin Fellow in 2019 for his reporting on President Rodrigo Duterte’s war on drugs.