June 20, 2012 · Posted in: General
Good news for transparency in the Supreme Court? Not quite.
At long last, the high court on Wednesday issued guidelines on the public disclosure of the Statement of Assets, Liabilities, and Net Worth (SALN) of the members of the judiciary, through an en banc resolution.
That resolution was touted to put an end to the 23-year regime of secrecy about the true state of wealth of the nation’s magistrates.
In a 21-page resolution, the high court issued the long-awaited guidelines on the release of copies of the asset records, as well as the curriculum vitae and personal data sheets “of the members, officials, and employees of the Judiciary.”
The full copy of the resolution was circulated past 5 p.m. but pages 19-21 which list the 7-point guidelines are sure to disappoint many quarters still.
Here are some points for concern:
- The “requests shall cover only copies of the latest SALN, PDS, and CV” of the members of the judiciary. “Previous records” may be obtained “if so specifically requested and considered justified.”
- The SALNs of the members of the Supreme Court justices, Court of Appeals, the Sandiganbayan, and the Court of Tax Appeals may be disclosed, but only with clearance from all the justices of these courts! The rule states that in the case of the asset records of these top guns of the judiciary, “the authority to disclose shall be made by the Court en banc.”
- Journalists who want to secure SALN copies from the court should file requests, which “shall additionally be supported with proof under oath of their media affiliation and by a similar certification of their respective organizations as legitimate media practitioners.”
- Private persons who are not members of the media should show proof that “their interests should go beyond pure or mere curiosity” when they request SALN copies. The barriers to accessing information are always stiffer for citizens?
- The guidelines state further” “Every request shall explain the requesting party’s purpose and their individual interests sought to be served; shall state the commitment that the request shall only be for the state purpose; and shall be submitted in a duly accomplished request form secured from the SC website.”
- And here’s the catch: “The requesting party, whether as individuals or as members of the media, must have no derogatory record of having misused any requested information previously furnished to them.”
A big win for transparency? Think again.
Read pages 19-21 of the Supreme Court en banc resolution on its guidelines for release of SALNs of the justices, judges, and members of the judiciary.
Update: Now available is a PDF of the complete resolution.