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Author Topic: SALNs to impeach CJ, other execs but Palace redacts Cabinet SALNs  (Read 886 times)

islander

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Re: SALNs to impeach CJ, other execs but Palace redacts Cabinet SALNs
« Reply #20 on: September 25, 2017, 04:02:15 PM »

CSC: SALN law stays

CSC Assistant Commissioner Ariel G. Ronquillo, who heads the Technical Working Group on the SALN Law — composed of representatives of the Office of the President, the Ombudsman, and other SALN repository agencies — says that the CSC guidelines must prevail as the reference in the filing of SALNs.

Interviewed by PCIJ, Ronquillo says that he finds no discrepancy or dissonance between provisions of R.A. No. 6713 (SALN Law) and R.A. No. 10173 (Data Privacy Act).

“I don’t think at this point we have to determine which one will prevail,” Ronquillo says, “because in any instances where there is an apparent inconsistency, just an apparent inconsistency between two laws or between two issuances, the first order of the day is to find a way to reconcile these inconsistencies. In other words, to find that situation where those inconsistencies will not be there. We have to interpret these two laws in a way that they will be harmonized. “
Republic Act 8485 (Animal Welfare Act of 1998, Philippines), as amended and strengthened by House  Bill 6893 of 2013--- violation means a maximum of P250,000 fine with a corresponding three-year jail term and a minimum of P30,000 fine and six months imprisonment


islander

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Re: SALNs to impeach CJ, other execs but Palace redacts Cabinet SALNs
« Reply #21 on: September 25, 2017, 04:02:37 PM »

But, he adds, “I have made a brief reading of the law as well as the implementing rules and then I made a review of our own guidelines, and honestly based on my reading, I didn’t see any inconsistency. Yeah, so those two laws can go hand in hand. So when it comes to SALN, I think we have to apply the guidelines on the SALN. When it comes to other matters that are clearly within the coverage of the Data Privacy Act then they can apply those regulations issued by the Privacy Commission. I think that’s how to approach it.”

Under the Data Privacy Act, he notes that an exception of coverage has been specified for “any individual who is or was an officer or employee of a government institution that relates to the functions or position of the individual.”
Republic Act 8485 (Animal Welfare Act of 1998, Philippines), as amended and strengthened by House  Bill 6893 of 2013--- violation means a maximum of P250,000 fine with a corresponding three-year jail term and a minimum of P30,000 fine and six months imprisonment

islander

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Re: SALNs to impeach CJ, other execs but Palace redacts Cabinet SALNs
« Reply #22 on: September 25, 2017, 04:03:46 PM »

PDS another matter

Ronquillo makes a distinction, however, between the SALN and personal data sheets or PDS.

“If the matter is purely private to the person whether he is in government or not it may still come under the scope,” Ronquillo says. “For example, personal data sheets (that) are required for any government official or employee upon entry to the government.”

He notes that the PDS “strictly contains personal information” and “before you can access the personal data sheet of a government official or employee, you have to seek the consent of the person.”

But that is not the case with the SALN, says Ronquillo. According to the CSC official, privacy may apply to PDS “but not with respect to the SALN.”

“Our stand with respect to the SALN is that it is an instrument of transparency and therefore it should be available to the public upon request,” he adds.

In Ronquillo’s view, The SALN Law and the CSC should prevail as the reference law and mandated agency in regard to the SALN matters.
Republic Act 8485 (Animal Welfare Act of 1998, Philippines), as amended and strengthened by House  Bill 6893 of 2013--- violation means a maximum of P250,000 fine with a corresponding three-year jail term and a minimum of P30,000 fine and six months imprisonment

islander

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Re: SALNs to impeach CJ, other execs but Palace redacts Cabinet SALNs
« Reply #23 on: September 25, 2017, 04:05:29 PM »

CSC has mandate

Says Ronquillo: “Kami yung may mandate under (R.A. No.) 6713 to issue the guidelines. So kapag sinabi naming na available iyan for public scrutiny, they cannot, even if they rule otherwise, they cannot prevail. Dapat kami masusunod. (We have mandate under RA 6713 to issue the guidelines. So when we say that should be available for public scrutiny, even if they rule otherwise, they cannot prevail. Our orders must be followed.)”

By all indications though, the OP Family Clearinghouse might have crossed over to prohibited territory when it redacted multiple data fields in the SALNs of the Cabinet members.

Ronquillo says blackening out the home address of the filer is all that the CSC guidelines allow, nothing more, nothing less. “Yung pag-cross out ng mga material information in the SALN such as the statement of properties as well as the different amounts involved, ‘yun nga ang dapat ipakita (that is what should be disclosed),” he says. “So I don’t think it is covered by the Data Privacy Act because the SALN is an instrument of transparency. If you will not disclose that to the public that will defeat the very purpose why people in government are required to fill out SALNs.”

“Without necessarily ruling on whether the action is correct or not,” Ronquillo says, “our guidelines actually require the statement of the exact place of the property that is reflected in the SALN and that is necessary again for purposes of transparency. If the public looks at any government official’s or employee’s SALN, and the public should also be given information as to where those properties can be found for purposes of verification.”

Transparency is the spirit that should drive the filing of SALNs, he says.
Republic Act 8485 (Animal Welfare Act of 1998, Philippines), as amended and strengthened by House  Bill 6893 of 2013--- violation means a maximum of P250,000 fine with a corresponding three-year jail term and a minimum of P30,000 fine and six months imprisonment

islander

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Re: SALNs to impeach CJ, other execs but Palace redacts Cabinet SALNs
« Reply #24 on: September 25, 2017, 04:07:21 PM »

Unwanted effects

“Through the SALN,” according to Ronquillo, “we are actually telling the public I am not hiding anything; I am not enriching myself at the expense of the government. So if you want to inspect my properties, go ahead and inspect. And just to prove to you that everything is legitimately acquired, then go ahead and inspect all those properties wherever they are from. That’s why even those information should be open to the public or whoever requests the SALN of that particular government official or employee.”

Redacting or hiding some data about a filer’s properties may even trigger unwanted results for the filer, he says.

Ronquillo agrees that public officials “should be allowed to protect themselves from harassment and from all other dangers” but also notes that, “there is no assurance that by hiding those information, the protection sought will be achieved. I think that is not the proper way of protecting themselves from harm.”
Republic Act 8485 (Animal Welfare Act of 1998, Philippines), as amended and strengthened by House  Bill 6893 of 2013--- violation means a maximum of P250,000 fine with a corresponding three-year jail term and a minimum of P30,000 fine and six months imprisonment

islander

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Re: SALNs to impeach CJ, other execs but Palace redacts Cabinet SALNs
« Reply #25 on: September 25, 2017, 04:07:48 PM »

“That act of hiding those information can even give an impression that they are hiding something from the public that will give the public more reason to do deeper investigation about the accumulation of their wealth and that will generate more interest about them,” he says.

“The moment you hide them, it would really give an impression that you are hiding something and that the acquisition or the accumulation of wealth was not that legitimate that you do not want the public to look at it. So I think that would be contrary first to the principle of transparency and to the very reason why we are executing SALNs.”
Republic Act 8485 (Animal Welfare Act of 1998, Philippines), as amended and strengthened by House  Bill 6893 of 2013--- violation means a maximum of P250,000 fine with a corresponding three-year jail term and a minimum of P30,000 fine and six months imprisonment

islander

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Re: SALNs to impeach CJ, other execs but Palace redacts Cabinet SALNs
« Reply #26 on: September 25, 2017, 04:08:17 PM »

Republic Act 8485 (Animal Welfare Act of 1998, Philippines), as amended and strengthened by House  Bill 6893 of 2013--- violation means a maximum of P250,000 fine with a corresponding three-year jail term and a minimum of P30,000 fine and six months imprisonment

islander

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Re: SALNs to impeach CJ, other execs but Palace redacts Cabinet SALNs
« Reply #27 on: September 25, 2017, 04:09:22 PM »

Some results

The meetings with PCIJ have clarified a few points only. For one, the NPC and the PCOO have now included the CSC and the Ombudsman in the discussions on the redactions being made. The NPC has decided to hold off on issuing the advisory requested by PCOO, until after full consultations with other agencies and stakeholders. Too, the NPC and the PCOO have agreed to call a meeting on Sept. 25 of the SALN repository agencies to align practices in compliance with the law.

Apart from the CSC, the Ombudsman, the Office of the President, the Supreme Court (en banc and Office of the Court Administrator), the Office of the Secretary of the Senate, and the Office of the Secretary-General of the House of Representatives are also SALN repositories or custodian agencies.

In a way, the situation boils down to which should be the greater concern or obligation of public officials: privacy or transparency?

Then again, the expectation of privacy, once one enters public service, seems unwarranted at the very least.
Republic Act 8485 (Animal Welfare Act of 1998, Philippines), as amended and strengthened by House  Bill 6893 of 2013--- violation means a maximum of P250,000 fine with a corresponding three-year jail term and a minimum of P30,000 fine and six months imprisonment

islander

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Re: SALNs to impeach CJ, other execs but Palace redacts Cabinet SALNs
« Reply #28 on: September 25, 2017, 04:10:10 PM »

‘Avoiding harassment’

When PCIJ asked Ablan for the first time last August about the redactions, he said: “Informal rules were outlined by the Clearinghouse of the OP family. News reports about the relatives of Secretary Martin Andanar triggered it.”

“We are just looking after our principal,” Ablan said. “Under FOI, there is fear that the information disclosed might lead to harassment and identity theft.”

To see what kind of news reports may have been the cause of concern for Andanar, PCIJ checked out media stories and photos about his relatives. But it found just a few featuring his wife, Alelee Aguilar Andanar, a daughter of Las Pinas Mayor Imelda ‘Mel’ Tobias Aguilar and former Mayor Vergel ‘Nene’ Aguilar.

In any case, Ablan told PCIJ that the Clearinghouse composed of assistant secretaries — who serve as “data privacy officers” but often also as the FOI receiving officers of their agencies — had set “an unwritten rule that it is okay to redact names of children, address, plate number (of vehicles), the signature on and the number of government-issued IDs.”
Republic Act 8485 (Animal Welfare Act of 1998, Philippines), as amended and strengthened by House  Bill 6893 of 2013--- violation means a maximum of P250,000 fine with a corresponding three-year jail term and a minimum of P30,000 fine and six months imprisonment

islander

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Re: SALNs to impeach CJ, other execs but Palace redacts Cabinet SALNs
« Reply #29 on: September 25, 2017, 04:11:05 PM »

Privacy, not secrecy?

“We are not trying to hide anything,” Ablan insisted. The concern of committee is we have to protect privacy of our principals.”

“Our unwritten policy also is we will wait for request for reconsideration from requestor, and if needed, we can unredact,” he said. “I hope you understand where we are coming from.”

The MRO chief, lawyer Concepcion Zeny E. Ferrolino-Enad, was, according to Ablan, “willing to disclose but there has to be a middle ground because there could be irresponsible people who will use the info in the SALNs.” Asked if the redactions on the SALNs of the Cabinet members imply special protection for senior officials of the Duterte administration, Ablan replied, “The plan is, even the SALNs of the rank-and-file, we will redact.”

He said that there is “no policy yet from the National Privacy Commission but we have asked for comment. If they tell us we cannot redact, we have to find proper authorities or forum to clarify. I hope you understand our concern is to protect people from harassment.” This much he assured PCIJ: “We can call for an emergency meeting for you with the Clearinghouse.”
Republic Act 8485 (Animal Welfare Act of 1998, Philippines), as amended and strengthened by House  Bill 6893 of 2013--- violation means a maximum of P250,000 fine with a corresponding three-year jail term and a minimum of P30,000 fine and six months imprisonment

islander

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Re: SALNs to impeach CJ, other execs but Palace redacts Cabinet SALNs
« Reply #30 on: September 25, 2017, 04:11:40 PM »

Republic Act 8485 (Animal Welfare Act of 1998, Philippines), as amended and strengthened by House  Bill 6893 of 2013--- violation means a maximum of P250,000 fine with a corresponding three-year jail term and a minimum of P30,000 fine and six months imprisonment

islander

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Re: SALNs to impeach CJ, other execs but Palace redacts Cabinet SALNs
« Reply #31 on: September 25, 2017, 04:12:11 PM »

Republic Act 8485 (Animal Welfare Act of 1998, Philippines), as amended and strengthened by House  Bill 6893 of 2013--- violation means a maximum of P250,000 fine with a corresponding three-year jail term and a minimum of P30,000 fine and six months imprisonment

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Re: SALNs to impeach CJ, other execs but Palace redacts Cabinet SALNs
« Reply #32 on: September 25, 2017, 04:12:58 PM »

Spooked by Privacy Act

PCIJ had also interviewed Liboro prior to the meetings held between PCIJ and the NPC and OP Family Clearinghouse.

PCIJ told Liboro that data privacy officers at the Palace seem to have been spooked by the huge penalties that could be imposed on them for “breach” of the Data Privacy Act, but also seem unaware that they may be violating The SALN Law by redacting or withholding information they are obliged to disclose under transparency and accountability laws.

Liboro sounded reassuring at one point, saying, “The Data Privacy Law does not protect government officials, agencies, contractors or companies. It does not proscribe other laws.”

But, of course, he said there is “a difficult balancing that must be made between data privacy and FOI.”

“Data privacy separates government data,” he said. “Hindi kampi sa gobyerno ito, kaya mahirap gamitin para sa gobyerno (It’s not on the side of the government, so it’s hard to use it for the government).”
Republic Act 8485 (Animal Welfare Act of 1998, Philippines), as amended and strengthened by House  Bill 6893 of 2013--- violation means a maximum of P250,000 fine with a corresponding three-year jail term and a minimum of P30,000 fine and six months imprisonment

islander

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Re: SALNs to impeach CJ, other execs but Palace redacts Cabinet SALNs
« Reply #33 on: September 25, 2017, 04:14:13 PM »

It’s a constitutional duty

By contrast, the CSC’s Ronquillo is crystal on the matter: The SALN Law must prevail in regard to the SALN.

Remarks Ronquillo: “This is a constitutional duty so all of us are doing this on a yearly basis and so therefore we also have to be prepared when someone looks at our SALN and someone scrutinizes it. If we are sincere in all our obligations as government people, we should not worry with what is reflected in our SALN. Otherwise, if you do not want that kind of practice, then you have to leave government.”

“You have to leave government,” he repeats. “This is part and parcel of being with government.” — With additional research and reporting by John Reiner Antiquerra and Vino Lucero, PCIJ, September 2017

http://pcij.org/
Republic Act 8485 (Animal Welfare Act of 1998, Philippines), as amended and strengthened by House  Bill 6893 of 2013--- violation means a maximum of P250,000 fine with a corresponding three-year jail term and a minimum of P30,000 fine and six months imprisonment

 

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