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PNoy hits Corona's squid tactics

MANILA, Philippines (Jan 21, 2012) - President Aquino urged Chief Justice Renato Corona yesterday to explain the apparent discrepancies and mismatches between his statement of assets, liabilities and net worth (SALN) and his declared properties rather than evading the issues at hand.

“Those who are experts in doing the spin (for a story) call this squid tactics,” he said.

“What is being asked is, ‘Did you file the SALN? Did you disclose it publicly?’ He can only say: ‘I filed on this date and it came out in this newspaper’ in meeting the public disclosure requirement of the Constitution.”

Aquino said Corona’s impeachment had nothing to do with the Hacienda Luisita case involving his family.

“So what is the connection to Luisita?” he asked.

“You answer the properties. Isn’t it that you have many things to answer, so why reply to something that is not part of the questions? How can we finish the prosecution or find the right answers to the questions presented to you?”

Corona and his allies said Aquino wanted Corona’s head to get a favorable ruling on the Hacienda Luisita case.

Aquino said he was satisfied with the performance of the House of Representatives prosecution team even if they were being criticized for being unprepared and uncompetitive.

“I think they were able to expose what must be exposed, put on record what must be put on record,” he said.

“And I think in the coming days we will be able to show how easy it is to reveal the truth.”

Aquino also denied giving instructions to senators acting as judges in the impeachment trial of Corona.

“I suppose a lot will protest with the mere suggestion that I am giving instructions to senators,” he said.

“That should not be how coequal branches of government deal with each other. So we are hoping that the evidence that will be presented and have been presented will be sufficient to provide a conclusion to our accusation against the Chief Justice.”

Lawmaker: Give SALN to Ombudsman

A pro-administration lawmaker wants the mandatory transmittal of the SALN of top government officials, including lawmakers and members of the judiciary and constitutional bodies, to the Office of the Ombudsman and their publication in government websites.

Quezon City Rep. Winston Castelo said the SALN should also be automatically transmitted to the Civil Service Commission (CSC), and posted on websites and published in the Official Gazette.

“The absence of a provision for their public disclosure denies the public access to those SALNs, which violates their essence as public documents that belong to the public domain,” he said.

“This absence is the bone of contention. Its absence has been the main reason why the Supreme Court (SC) justices have been effectively skirting for many years the constitutional and legal requirement to provide the public access to their SALNs.

“By requiring those public officials to submit copies of their SALNs to the Office of the Ombudsman and the CSC, and bare them in their websites, their public disclosure will become automatic.”

Castelo said public officers who have submitted SALNs that contain correct information should have nothing to fear.

“On the other hand, the submission of SALNs that contain only rightful information deters any undue harassment,” he said.

Castelo said the submission of SALNs to the Office of the Ombudsman and the CSC will deter corruption in public office.

“The honest disclosure of assets and liabilities is the best weapon against harassment or allegations of corruption,” he said.

“The SALN is the best guidepost for any lifestyle check because amassment of illegal wealth by a public official would be easily reflected in his SALN.

“Any possession of wealth or property way above his lawful income deserves explanation.”

Castelo said Republic Act 6713 should be amended to provide legislative fiat for the automatic public disclosure of SALNs of public officials.

“A public officer or employee shall, upon assumption of office and as often thereafter as may be required by law, submit a declaration under oath of his assets, liabilities, and net worth,” reads the Constitution. (From