Stories posted 2012

The wealth of the ‘Gods of Faura’

Transparency on ice: Judicial
independence or impunity?

PARANG humihila ng bayawak sa lungga. (It’s like pulling a monitor lizard out of a pit.)

This, according to former Senator Rene A.V. Saguisag, is how the Supreme Court has behaved in the last 23 years toward the law that he had chiefly authored, Republic Act No. 6713 or the Code of Conduct and Ethical Standards for Public Officials and Employees. In three words: The SALN Law.

The highest magistrates of the land are, by shape, color, or size, not one bit a spitting image of lizards. And the massive edifice, no matter how ancient, that is home to the highest court of the land on Padre Faura in Manila, is not a sliver close to being a pit.

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Sereno y Carpio

IN PCIJ’s analysis, the biggest obstacles to achieving full transparency in the high court seem to be its top two officials: Chief Justice Ma. Lourdes P. A. Sereno and Associate Justice Antonio T. Carpio. The two were among the seven who did not respond to PCIJ’s clarificatory letters but whose SALNs invite the biggest questions […]

The wealth of the ‘Gods of Faura’

Rapidly rising net worth
shared bliss of SC justices

EXACTLY A year ago today, on Dec. 12, 2011, President Benigno Simeon C. Aquino III marshaled votes from his Liberal Party and coalition allies in the House of Representatives to impeach then Chief Justice Renato C. Corona.

The chief magistrate, it was alleged, had failed to declare the true and full details of his wealth in his Statement of Assets, Liabilities, and Net Worth (SALN).

But by most indications, many strands of Corona’s story find parallels in the state of wealth of most of his former colleagues at the Supreme Court, as of 2011.

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Half a giga of data

FOUR months of research, more than two dozen requests, and at least half a gigabyte of documents. That was what it took to produce this four-part series on the Statements of Assets, Liabilities, and Net Worth (SALN) of the justices of the Supreme Court. It all started in mid-August when PCIJ sent its request for […]

The wealth of the ‘Gods of Faura’

Corona’s fat allowances not
taxed: Same, same still at SC?

MANY PUBLIC officials like to say that accepting a government post is like taking a vow of poverty, given the supposedly paltry pay in government service.

What officials neglect to say, however, is that aside from their basic pay, many of them receive all sorts of allowances, bonuses, and other benefits that can jack up their income by as much as 300 percent.

The wealth of the ‘Gods of Faura’

SC justices among PH’s best paid,
allowances, bonuses not in SALNs

WHEN Congress impeached then Chief Justice Renato C. Corona on December 12, 2011 because he had allegedly filed an intentionally flawed Statement of Assets, Liabilities, and Net Worth (SALN), it was a signal for public servants that the document they submitted each year was not to be trifled with.

And when Corona was found guilty by the Senate impeachment court of excluding a substantial portion of his assets in his sworn SALN, transparency in the details of their income and wealth became a clear obligation – and strong public expectation – of all public officials, but especially of the justices of the Supreme Court.

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Money Talk

GOVERNMENT-SPEAK is bewildering enough for the layman, but when talks turn to money received by public servants, things can get even more confusing. To help taxpayers understand where some of their money is going, here are some definitions and descriptions of various allowances and benefits a government official may receive (plus related and governing laws, […]

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COA the courageous

HOW much do taxpayers pay officials for their services in government? Except for general and lump figures provided in budget documents and relevant laws, little had been known about how much, say, a Supreme Court justice or a government corporation chief receive in benefits in a year.

It was not until the Commission on Audit (COA), the country’s supreme audit institution, came out with annual reports of senior officials’ salary and allowances. COA has actually been producing the report for nearly two decades now, but it seems that the document has only recently been given due notice.

Maguindanao Massacre, Year 3

Ampatuans own 500 hectares
but assets inventory incomplete

IF ANDAL AMPATUAN SR. and his sons ruled Maguindanao as if they owned the province, perhaps it was because they really owned a sizeable chunk of it — and parts of Cotabato, Sultan Kudarat, Davao City, and Makati City as well.

Andal Sr. and his sons Andal Jr. and Zaldy Ampatuan, officials who hail from one of the poorest provinces in the country, own close to five million square meters of property scattered throughout Maguindanao, Cotabato, Davao, and even in ritzy Dasmariñas Village in Makati, according to records in the Manila Regional Trial Court Branch 22, where there is a pending civil forfeiture case against the Ampatuan properties.

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A widow’s appeal

MARY GRACE MORALES lost two loved ones in the Maguindanao Massacre of Nov.23, 2009 — her husband Rosell, a reporter for News Focus, and her sister Marites Cablitas, a reporter of radio DxBX. Grace and family members of the 32 media workers who died in the massacre are complainants in the multiple murder case now […]

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