15 September 2009

Another Wasteful Memo

Money and Corruption
As the public’s clamor for more transparency on their accumulated wealth grow stronger everyday, President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo and her family should find comfort in the latest memorandum from the Office of the Ombudsman. The document has listed down new and stricter rules on the release of Statements of Assets, Liabilities and Net worth (SALNs) filed in their office supposedly to 'protect the confidentiality' of the public document and the government employees and officials who submitted them.

"Gusto lang naming ingatan ang naghain (ng SALN) dahil isinubmit nila sa amin, dahil may trust sila na kami ang magtatabi, kaya dapat lang naman na pangalagaan ang confidentiality at integrity ng mga dokumento," (We just want to protect those who submitted the SALN to us, because they trust us, so it is only proper that we protect the confidentiality and integrity of these documents) Assistant Ombudsman Jose de Jesus said in an interview on 8 September 2009 with GMA News’ Sandra Aguinaldo and GMANews.TV.

If this is not load full of bollocks, then I don’t know what is. If all these concerned politicians submit the right information on their SALN and not hide their ill-gotten wealth in the guise of ‘confidentiality and integrity’, then trust and confidence on good governance will increase dramatically. And in any case, as the lead agency charge with weeding out corrupt officials, the Office of the Ombudsman should stop worrying about the interest of a few, incompetent and wasteful politicians and start doing what they are mandated to do.

"We have to (have) some rules so that whenever we give copies of these confidential documents they are assured that it’s for public interest. Media should not be wary," de Jesus added.

Is this guy for real? His statement is contradicting the provisions of Republic Act 6713, or the Code of Conduct for Public Officials and Employees, on SALNs. The law requires government officials and employees to "accomplish and submit declarations under oath of, and the public has the right to know, their assets, liabilities, net worth and financial and business interests including those of their spouses and of unmarried children under 18 years of age living in their households."

Specifically, Section 8 of the said law says that all statements, including SALNs, shall be available for copying or reproduction after 10 working days from the time they are filed.

At a time when the average Filipino is struggling to pay the bills, desperate to keep their job, fighting the bank manager and staving off repossession, the Office of the Ombudsman thinks that 'standards in public life' and 'public confidence' will be enhanced by protecting the confidentiality of public officials. Why not propose to triple the salaries of these greedy officials as well why they are on it?

It is high time that the entire stable of self-seeking, out of touch, arrogant, public officials in Congress is mucked out and the stench of their corruption in a time of economic retrenchment washed away.