Marcos changes position on SALN disclosure anew

February 16, 2022 - 2:06 PM
Philippine presidential candidate Ferdinand Marcos Jr., son of late dictator Ferdinand Marcos, gestures as he delivers his speech during the first day of campaign period for the 2022 presidential election, at the Philippine Arena, in Bulacan province, Philippines, February 8, 2022. (Reuters/Lisa Marie David)

A presidential aspirant backtracked his earlier statement about releasing his Statement of Assets, Liabilities, and Net Worth (SALN) to the public once elected.

Ferdinand Marcos Jr. said that he will make his SALN “public information” in a debate hosted by SMNI, a media network run by church founder Apollo Quiboloy.

Quiboloy, a pastor who has an arrest warrant in the US, heads the network.

He also endorsed Marcos and his running mate Davao City Mayor Sara Duterte-Carpio for the 2022 polls.

During the debate Tuesday, a panelist asked the presidential aspirants if they will release their SALNs to the public should they win the elections.

Marcos expressed willingness to disclose this document. He said that it is part of his duty if he is an elected official.

“Ako para sa akin, hindi problema un. Hindi lang ako nagsusulat ng SALN for the last six years pero kung ako ay maging mapalad sa darating na halalan, natural ay kailangan gagawa ng SALN at ito ay ibibigay ko sa publiko kung hihingin sa akin,” he said.

Statements on SALN disclosure 

Marcos, however, made a different statement on SALN disclosures in past interviews.

In an interview last January, he was also asked the same question about his stand on the matter.

In response, Marcos said that not everyone should know the details about a public official’s wealth.

“Maybe if there’s a case filed, perhaps that’s the time that it can be given but not to the public. Certainly to agents of the court or the court itself, whatever that court might be. That might be a workable solution,” he was quoted as saying in a CNN Philippines report.

Marcos perceived that such documents can be weaponized by their rivals.

He cited the case of late Supreme Court Chief Justice Renato Corona who was impeached due to his failure to disclose his SALN.

“Lahat ng pulitiko may kalaban eh. Gagawan ng issue yan kahit walang issue. Prime example is Corona, walang issue gumawa sila tinanggal siya,” Marcos said.

This was also contradictory to his earlier position in an interview with One News’ “Sa Totoo Lang” last October 2021.

When asked about the release of his SALN, Marcos was quoted as saying in a report: “‘Yan, okay ‘yan, transparency, accountability, tama ‘yan.”

What the law says

During the debate, Marcos also claimed that SALN disclosure is up to an official’s discretion.

“Yan ang desisyon ko bilang indibidwal, sa aking palagay ay hindi na kailangan palitan ang batas at nasa sa bawat opisyal na yan kung sila ba ay handa na ilabas ang kanilang SALN,” Marcos said.

“Sa sarili ko lamang, para maging maliwanag, kapag ako ay susulat muli ng SALN, ito ay gagawin kong public information,” he added.

Several social media users countered this. They pointed out that government officials are mandated by law to declare their SALNs to the public.

In Section 17, Article XI of the 1987 Constitution, the following is stated:

“A public officer or employee shall, upon assumption of office and often thereafter as may be required by law, submit a declaration under oath of his assets, liabilities, and net worth.”

Section 8 of RA 6713 (Code of Conduct and Ethical Standards for Public Officials and Employees), moreover, stated the following:

“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.”