DO you want more transparency in government? Do you want to unmask corrupt officials? Implementation this year of new requirements in state workers’ Statement of Assets, Liabilities and Net Worth (SALNs) could improve transparency and accountability in government service.
Sleuths out to discover the dirty fruits of dirty deeds will have an easier time poring over the new SALN approved by the Civil Service Commission (CSC) in July 2011. The new SALN will be used for year 2011. The deadline for filing is on April 2012.
The major changes are:
- Inclusion of the spouse’s properties, including that paraphernal type –meaning property one brings to the marriage or acquires even after marriage, especially inheritance — and that of children below 18 years of age living in the filer’s household.
- The use of acquisition cost for computation purposes. While all assets of minor children and the spouse should be listed, these will be excluded from computation. Also excluded is a spouse’s exclusive property if he/she files a separate SALN. (Insert)
- Filers must now list GROSS INCOME from all sources and not just list down financial or business interests.
- Filers must also submit personal and family expenses for the year, to include education and health costs, and the cost of vacations and other travel and big-ticket expenditures.
- They must also submit ALL TAXES paid on all income/earningS whether through sale of properties, dividends, honorarium or regular income
While a study of revisions in the SALN form had been ordered in 2010, what spurred greater change was the Sandiganbayan dismissal of plunder raps against retired Armed Forces Comptroller Carlos Garcia.
In a telephone interview, CSC Director for Legal Services Ariel Ronquillo said the old SALN form did not require Garcia to list properties belonging to his spouse.
“That was the defect of the old form, pwede talagang mapaglaruan,” Ronquillo said. “You could not use it to detect graft and corruption or detect lifestyle anomalies.”
Now, with the portion on family expenses, it will be easier for probers to detect if a filer is lying about lifestyle.
“It will encourage everybody to be transparent about their assets and discourage corruption anomalies. This form can serve as evidence,” Ronquillo added.
The most important change, however, is the inclusion of tax payments in the SALN.
Ronquillo said it would make it easier to check for false declaration, whether for acquisition cost or income/profit from a business transaction.
The prosecution panel in the on-going impeachment trial of Chief Justice Renator Corona has asked Bureau of Internal Revenue Commissioner Kim Henares to submit the income tax return of the country’s highest judge, his wife and children. The prosecution is trying to prove that Corona was not honest in his SALN declarations. It has accused the Chief Justice of withholding several properties from his SALN. Prosecution lawyers hope Henares could validate their claims.
“We did not reinvent the wheel,” Ronquillo stressed. He pointed out that Republic Act 3019, or the Anti Graft and Corrupt Practices Act of 1960, already mandated the inclusion of all incomes and expenses and taxes in the SALNs of government.
The CSC studied RA 3019 and RA 6713, which amended it.
Ronquillo said conventional wisdom presumed RA 6713 revised the requirements of the SALN.
“Our study shows there was no revision. The new law never repealed this section. What we did was to harmonize the two laws.”
The CSC had earlier drafted a baseline form, a one-time document, and an annual declaration, but eventually scrapped these. The new form, Ronquillo said, is more “filer-friendly.”
One concern is the disclosure of taxes, which could give officials some security nightmares.
But Ronquillo said, “I do not know why you should hide or conceal the amount of taxes you pay. Why not be transparent and accurate? It’s best for the country.”
Will scalawags in government be afraid of the new SALN? Maybe not, if they’ve enjoyed impunity for decades. But it could make the job of catching them easier.
This is the new SALN form. http://excell.csc.gov.ph/FORMS/revised_SALNform.pdf Here is the old form. http://www.customs.gov.ph/references/CMC%2047-2011.pdf