Today's Punto
Today's Punto
Redacting Abella

Sep 28, 2017

“WHILE WE uphold the principle of transparency and accountability in public service, those working in the government, such as members of the Cabinet, still have the right to privacy.”

So spoke presidential loudmouth Ernesto Abella in defense of Malacañang’s decision to redact portions of the Cabinet members’ Statement of Assets, Liability, and Net Worth, invoking that it was in line with the Data Privacy Act.

Furthered Abella: “There are some who may use the sensitive personal information and other data contained in the SALNs to harass people or commit fraud. We therefore consider security concerns as valid issues.”

Given the grounds by which Chief Justice Renato Corona was impeached in the previous administration and the impeachment poised on current Chief Justice Maria Lourdes Sereno now, what legal leg can prop up Abella’s defense?

And then, there is Republic Act No. 6713 An Act Establishing a Code of Conduct and Ethical Standards for Public Officials and Employees, where Section 8 reads: Statements and Disclosure.

- 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 eighteen (18) years of age living in their households.

(A) Statements of Assets and Liabilities and Financial Disclosure…

The two documents shall contain information on the following:

(a) real property, its improvements, acquisition costs, assessed value and current fair market value;

(b) personal property and acquisition cost;

(c) all other assets such as investments, cash on hand or in banks, stocks, bonds, and the like;

(d) liabilities, and;

(e) all business interests and financial connections.

To think that this administration prides itself as having instituted freedom of information in the executive department!

Above it all, The Constitution, Article XI, Section

1, to wit:

Public office is a public trust. Public officers and employees must, at all times, be accountable to the people, serve them with utmost responsibility, integrity, loyalty, and efficiency; act with patriotism and justice, and lead modest lives.

We can only surmise that this redaction on the Cabinet’s SALN is yet another futile stimulation of the Duterte administration’s “creative imagination.”

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