WHAT DO some bankers and fund managers, a few senior government officials, a dozen top taxpayers, and a handful of companies located in the country have in common? They are among some 200 Filipinos, Philippine residents, and corporations that own or are linked to offshore accounts in tax havens across the world, according to the “Paradise Papers” cache of 13.4 million confidential electronic documents that had been leaked and exposed this month.
THE DATA PRIVACY ACT “is not meant to serve as a subterfuge to prevent the processing and/or disclosure of personal information sanctioned under law.” This, according to Chairman Raymund E. Liboro of the National Privacy Commission (NPC) is a core principle that should inform the discourse on the right to information of citizens to get true and detailed asset records or Statement of Assets, Liabilities, and Net Worth (SALN) of public officials and employees.
MORE THAN a year after President Rodrigo R. Duterte signed the Freedom of Information executive order, a practice completely reverse of the policy has been creeping onto some documents requested by the public. The likely tool for the unexpected move: a black marker. Redactions on items declared by Cabinet officials in their Statements of Assets, Liabilities, and Net Worth (SALN) released by the Malacañang Records Office have recently been noted by media outfits requesting these as material for stories.
THE PRESS in the Philippines has been described to be among the freest in Asia if not in the world, robust, almost rambunctious in its practice. But in the first 16 months of the Duterte administration, its status and practice have been diminished, shaken down by supporters and trolls of the President who would not tolerate critical coverage.