Miriam Santiago suggests disclosure of public officials' SALN and income in FOI bill

Manila, Philippines - Senator Miriam Defensor Santiago suggests the disclosure of the statement of assets, liabilities, and net worth (SALN) and the monthly income of public officials, included in the Freedom of Information (FOI) bill now pending in the Senate.

Miriam Santiago FOI Bill

Santiago has asked Senator Grace Poe, sponsor of the FOI bill, to include in the bill a provision mandating all government agencies to publish and make available for download in their respective websites the following information:

  • audited financial statements, and budget and expenditure records of the respective government agencies;
  • the SALN of public officials with salary grade 27 and above, pursuant to Republic Act No. 6713 or the Code of Conduct and Ethical Standards of Public Officials and Employees;
  • monthly income, including allowances and sources of income, of all public officials with salary grade 27 and above; and
  • performance review results of government agencies, as prescribed by the Anti-Red Tape Act (Republic Act No. 9485) and other relevant laws.

Santiago, author of the proposed Magna Carta for Philippine Internet Freedom, said government should maximize the use of the internet and information and communications technology (ICT) in disseminating information, and promoting transparency in governance.

"Government agencies should provide for and maintain their own websites which would allow the public to view and download public information on the plans, policies, programs, and relevant documents and records of their office," Santiago said.

According to Santiago, her proposal has met some opposition from certain lawmakers, but she said she is determined to push for the adoption of her amendment in the FOI bill.

The senator also wants government agencies to maintain in their websites mechanisms to allow for the public to provide feedback, lodge complaints, or report instances of malfeasance or misfeasance, including anonymous feedback, complaints, or reports.

The agencies are also required to take appropriate steps to protect persons making feedback, complaints, or reports from retaliation or persecution.

Santiago also wants sensitive personal information, such as an individual's health records, sexual life, and religious, philosophical or political affiliations, to be excluded from the coverage of the right to information under the FOI bill.

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