The House of Representatives has failed to release a summary of its members’ statements of assets and liabilities net worth (SALN) last May as it created a new review committee and planned to draft rules on the request for the public document.
In a press conference on Monday, Oriental Mindoro Rep. Reynaldo Umali said the lower House failed to release the summary of the net worth of its members, annually released in May, because the leadership decided to create a SALN review committee.
The creation of the new committee would entail creation of new rules to be included in the Rules of the 17th Congress, said Umali, who chairs the new House committee.
The rules would tackle requests for the summary or actual SALN, and even present means for House members to correct mistakes they may have committed in their SALN, he said.
“Kasi naging chairman ako ng committee ng SALN review committee. I want to go by the rules. Alam niyo naman dito sa Congress, there are 292 of us, and it’s so difficult to deal with each and every complaint that may come our way,” Umali said.
Umali denied that the lower House would draft the rules to allow their members to get away from their cases in court involving SALN violations.
“It’s much better if it’s done in accordance with the rules… The rules of the game must be clear to everyone,” Umali said of the new SALN regulations.
Umali said the lower House is planning on integrating the Supreme Court rules on SALN requests with the House rules.
He said the new SALN review committee met as early as July 11, and that the lawmakers failed to agree on the adoption of the rules.
“I want to start fresh and I want to start anew. And starting fresh and new means there must be a rule,” Umali said.
Although this is the first time the lower House has created a SALN review committee, Umali said this committee is not intended to make it more difficult to request the SALN of lawmakers.
He also belied possible backlash that the lower House is not being transparent in the net worth of their members, even as the lower House in 2012 prosecuted the late Chief Justice Renato Corona on false declarations of wealth. The Senate acting as an impeachment court later convicted Corona.
Umali said Corona was convicted because of corruption allegations and not for mere SALN violations.
“It’s not even SALN, Mayroon kaming allegation of unexplained wealth leading to corruption. It is a misnomer or a misappreciation. (The violation of SALN) is not the gravitas of the decision, but more on the corruption,” Umali said. JE
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