Connect with us

Hi, what are you looking for?

Economy

SC: Ombudsman can regulate release of net worth records

THE SUPREME COURT (SC) has rejected a lawsuit questioning the validity of a government memo limiting public access to net worth records of public officials.

In a Feb. 2 resolution made public on Wednesday, the tribunal said the Ombudsman may regulate access to official records including statements of assets, liabilities and net worth (SALN) of government officials.

“While the right of access to information to a public official’s SALN is provided under the Constitution and Republic Act 6713, the same is not an absolute vested right,” it said. “The court has declared in the past that while no prohibition could stand against access to official records such as the SALN, the same is undoubtedly subject to regulation.”

Ombudsman Samuel R. Martires has issued a memo requiring notarized consent of an official before a request for a copy of his net worth statement is approved.

The High Court also scolded litigant Louis Biraogo for going straight to the tribunal instead of filing his suit before a lower court.

“The rule is now well-settled that litigants do not have unfettered discretion to invoke the court’s original jurisdiction in the issuance of extraordinary writs, which it concurrently shares with the regional trial courts and the Court of Appeals,” it said.

It also said there was no actual case or controversy since the Ombudsman had only verbally denied, based Mr. Biraogo’s own account, his request for a copy of the net worth statement of Vice President Maria Leonor G. Robredo.

The plaintiff wanted a copy of the vice president’s net worth statement supposedly to study her office’s use of a mansion in Quezon City that was allegedly paid for using taxpayer’s money.

After getting no response, he supposedly called the Ombudsman’s office and was verbally that his request had been denied given Mr. Martires’s memo issued in September.

The court called his account a “bare, self-serving and unsubstantiated allegation.”

The high court noted that as custodian of the net worth statements of justice and judges, it had issued rules on access and denied requests due to improper motives.

In September, it blocked the attempts by a private lawyer and the Solicitor General to gain access to the net worth statement of Justice Marvic Mario Victor F. Leonen.

A plan to file a suit inquiring into the magistrate’s legal right to his post did not prosper, but an impeachment complaint was filed against him at the House of Representatives. Among the allegations was his failure to file his net worth statement for 15 years when he was still teaching at the University of the Philippines.

A House committee in May rejected the complaint as lawyers, judges, human rights advocates and even retired Supreme Court Justice Antonio T. Carpio defended Mr. Leonen’s, saying the complaint was baseless.

The Ombudsman memo has allowed President Rodrigo Duterte to keep his 2018, 2019, and 2020 net worth statements secret. Some public officials including Ms. Robredo release their statements to journalists who request a copy.

Under the law, it is illegal to obtain or use net worth statements for any commercial purpose other than by news media that write stories for public consumption.

The Supreme Court said the lawsuit, which sought to compel the Ombudsman to perform a government duty, was wrongly filed because the country’s chief graft buster can deny such requests as the custodian of SALNs of presidents, vice presidents and heads of constitutional bodies. — B.A.D. Añago

Click to comment

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Get the daily email that makes reading the news actually enjoyable. Stay informed and entertained, for free.
Your information is secure and your privacy is protected. By opting in you agree to receive emails from us. Remember that you can opt-out any time, we hate spam too!

Latest

Investing

The UK government will invest £100m in Britishvolt as the car battery manufacturing startup seeks to build Britain’s first large-scale “gigafactory” in the north-east...

Investing

Bankers and accountants are among those being summoned back to their offices after the government scrapped its work-from-home guidance in England with immediate effect....

Investing

The kitchens of Michelin-starred restaurants too often descend into alternative “moral universes” where bullies and bad behaviour thrive, a study has suggested. While Gordon...

Investing

A company controlled by the Duke of York and used to manage his investments is more than £200,000 in debt, according to newly filed...

Investing

Rogue waste collectors who fly-tip household rubbish will be targeted under a government crackdown. Fly-tipping increased sharply last year to 1.1 million cases in...

Investing

Peloton Interactive lost more than 25 per cent of its value on Wall Street at one point last night after the exercise bike maker...

You May Also Like

Investing

Having a good Instagram marketing agency to back up your Instagram account is an absolute must going into the new year. With competition stronger...

Economy

Ivermectin, an existing drug against parasites including head lice, has had a checkered history when it comes to treating COVID-19. The bulk of studies...

Investing

Insomnia is the most common sleep disorder in the global population. Therefore, it is a problem that many people suffer or have suffered throughout...

Investing

As a traditionally rigid insurance industry becomes bogged down by antiquated processes and operations, a handful of industry leaders are seeking to shake things...

Disclaimer: SmartRetirementReport.com, its managers, its employees, and assigns (collectively "The Company") do not make any guarantee or warranty about what is advertised above. Information provided by this website is for research purposes only and should not be considered as personalized financial advice. The Company is not affiliated with, nor does it receive compensation from, any specific security. The Company is not registered or licensed by any governing body in any jurisdiction to give investing advice or provide investment recommendation. Any investments recommended here should be taken into consideration only after consulting with your investment advisor and after reviewing the prospectus or financial statements of the company.

Copyright © 2021 SmartRetirementReport. All Rights Reserved.