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SALN: A Public Accountability Measure

Written By Jane Miranda on Saturday, August 25, 2012 | Saturday, August 25, 2012


A SIMPLE, regular document all government employees are familiar with gained popularity of epic proportions due to the impeachment trial of the highest official of the judiciary branch of government. Many a civil servant is suddenly called to attention as negligence in accomplishing this document could lead to impeachment or dismissal from service. This headline-grabbing piece of paper is none other than the Statement of Assets, Liabilities, and Net Worth a.k.a. SALN.

The SALN is any public official or employee’s declaration of his/her wealth. BusinessDictionary.com defines assets as “something valuable that an entity owns, benefits from, or has use of, in generating income.” Liabilities, on the other hand, refer to financial liability or anything that can result to a transfer or disposal of an asset through personal loans or otherwise obtained from banks, financial institutions, GSIS, PAG-IBIG and the like. Net worth is the sum of all assets (real, personal, and other assets) less total liabilities. It is the sum total of one’s wealth. With these declarations, the SALN, then, serves as any public servant’s “wealth tracker.”

Filing of one's SALN is mandated by law under Republic Act No. 6713 (Code of Conduct and Ethical Standards for Public Officials and Employees) and Republic Act No. 3019 (Anti-Graft and Corrupt Practices Act).

Section 8 of RA 6713 states that public officials and employees have an obligation to accomplish and submit declarations under oath of, and the public has the right to know, their assets, liabilities, net worth, and financial and business interests including those of their spouses and of unmarried children under 18 years of age living in their households.

Likewise, RA 3019, the law that preceded RA 6713 by a good 16 years, states that every public officer shall prepare and file a true detailed and sworn statement of assets and liabilities, including a statement of the amounts and sources of his income, the amounts of his personal and family expenses, and the amount of income taxes paid for the next preceding calendar year.

A few months ago, the Civil Service Commission (CSC) conducted an information campaign on the use of the new SALN form. CSC Resolution No. 11-00902 dated July 8, 2011 prescribed the guidelines in the use of the
revised SALN form. Subsequently, public officials and employees were enjoined to use the new form through CSC Memorandum Circular 19, s.2011. Primers were distributed and briefings on how to fill out the new form were conducted in government agencies.

However, last March 15, the CSC signed Resolution No. 12-00480 deferring the use of the revised form. The resolution cites considerations such as several requests from various sectors. Employees associations
claimed that government workers have not fully comprehended the requirements in filling out the new form; while the House of Representatives and Senate of the Philippines raised questions on the legality of the revised
form.

The resolution also states that those who have already filed their SALN for 2011 using the new form are deemed to have complied with the required submission of the SALN. CSC Chairman Francisco T. Duque III noted the importance of establishing a Review and Compliance Committee that shall review whether the SALN is submitted on time, accomplished completely, and in proper form.

In light of the deferment, the CSC shall undertake a more thorough and comprehensive review of the revised SALN form. An interagency technical working group (TWG), which shall be headed by Chairman Duque, shall study the issues raised by various groups.

Nevertheless, the deferment does not mean postponing the submission of SALN. All public servants are still duty bound to submit their SALN by April 30 using the 1994 SALN form. Failure to do so may result to suspension or dismissal from service.

Issues surrounding SALN may seem complicated as there are serious repercussions to a simple negligence. This is because the SALN is a testament to a public servant’s accountability and transparency to the public.



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