March 17, 2014 · Posted in: 2013 Elections, Access to Information, Civil Society, Congress Watch, Free Expression - Asia, Freedom of Information, General, Governance, Human Rights, Money Politics, Online Research
PERHAPS you know them well enough to elect them. But really, how well do you KNOW them?
The Philippine Center for Investigative Journalism (PCIJ) has recently updated its MoneyPolitics Online site with more data on the candidates who won in the May 2013 midterm elections.
Under the site’s Public Profiles tab, a visitor may find the complete list of winners in the 2013 elections, from district and party-list Representatives in the 16th Congress, to Governors and Vice-Governors, Provincial Board Members, Mayors and Vice-Mayors, and Councilors.
More importantly, the sub-tabs bring up more information on the assets of many of these local officials: Their real and personal assets, their liabilities, and their net worth. These are grouped according to the year these information were filed.
A visitor however would notice that the data contained in the sub-tabs are uneven, or may at times be completely blank. Despite constitutional guarantees to access to information, and despite the requirement set by Republic Act 6713 or the Code of Conduct and Ethical Standards for Public Officials and Employees that public officials must publicly divulge their assets, few public officials really make these data available.
For example, many of the entries in the PCIJ database on the assets and liabilities of District and Party-List Representatives are based, not on the actual statements of assets, liabilities, and net worth (SALNs), but on the summary asset reports made available by the House of Representatives. These summary asset reports are condensed and abridged reports of the assets of legislators, which give total figures but lack meaningful details.
The House of Representatives has refused to release SALNs of the 15th and 16th Congress to the PCIJ and other requesting parties, insisting that permission needs to be obtained first from the official involved.
So, how well do you really know the people you elect? Well, we wish we knew more about them too. And with the PCIJ’s MoneyPolitics Online project, we would like everyone else to know all about them.