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MANILA, Philippines - The Supreme Court (SC) has formed a body that will look into the assets of its employees, but the justices led by Chief Justice Ma. Lourdes Sereno spared themselves from such scrutiny.
In a four-page resolution, the high court ordered the creation of a review and compliance committee tasked to evaluate the statements of assets, liabilities and net worth (SALNs) of its employees and those of the Presidential Electoral Tribunal.
“The main task of the (committee) is to evaluate the SALN forms submitted by the employees, to determine whether it was submitted on time, accomplished completely, and in proper form,” read the order signed by SC Clerk of Court Enriqueta Vidal.
Vidal was designated as chair of the committee with lawyers Eden Candelaria and Caridad Pabello as members.
The SC explained that the creation of the group is pursuant to Rule VIII of the Rules Implementing the Code of Conduct and Ethical Standards for Public Officials and Employees, as amended by Civil
Service Commission (CSC) Resolution No. 06-031 dated Feb. 1, 2006.
It was the first time the high tribunal created such a committee. Since the rule was created, the Personnel Division of the Office of the Administrative Services (OAS) has been in charge of gathering all SALNs of employees for submission to the CSC.
The move came a year after the impeachment trial of former chief justice Renato Corona before the Senate.
When Corona was ousted, critics of the high court had expected transparency in the assets of SC justices.
In June last year, the SC issued a seven-point guideline on the release of the SALNs of justices and judges.
Under the rules, approval of the SC sitting in full court and justification for the release of the SALNs from requesting parties are necessary before justices' SALNs can be made public.
This means the release of the SALNs of justices remains discretionary on their part.
Critics, including the Philippine Center for Investigative Journalism, lamented that these requirements defeated the purpose of their call for transparency.
They asked the high tribunal to revise the new rules, but the justices have not acted on this yet.
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