Tracking Wealth Of Civil Servants

If there is one thing that the current impeachment trial of CJ Corona has proved, it is about the confusion on how to fill up the blanks in the Statement of Assets, Liabilities and Net Worth (SALN) especially whether  a filer could put a zonal or assessed value, instead of the fair market value and real acquisition cost of a property. SALNs are aimed to be used as a tool for transparency to check if a government official or employee is declaring his actual wealth. However, a review of the old SALN forms showed that there were loopholes in the forms that would allow someone to manipulate the figures being reported.

The issue of how CJ Corona filled up his past SALNs and the recent case of a Bureau of Customs clerk Paulino Elevado who is now facing a lifestyle check for allegedly owning a Porsche car revealed the urgency to revise the form and its implementation. In view of this, the Civil Service Commission (CSC) came out with a press release about its Guidelines in the Use of Revised SALN Form promulgated in July 8, 2011 for use this year. The guidelines require the filing of Revised SALN Form that will address gray areas in the old form and serve as a “wealth-tracker” among government officials and workers.

The new SALN form is more detailed and aims to minimize confusion on the properties owned by a public official or worker. It should be able to find out whether the government employee is spending so much more than what he actually earns. He will have to declare the the amount of his income, its sources, and his personal and family expenditures in the revised form.

Under the revised SALN form, personal properties or assets must be classified as either “tangible” or “intangible”; meaning, the filer has to state if he is paying for a property even if ownership had not yet been transferred. Also, the CSC memorandum circular enjoins all civil servants to declare the financial and business interests of their spouses and unmarried children under 18 years of age living in their households, including the amounts and sources of their income, personal and family expenses, and income taxes paid for the preceding year.

It must be noted that the new SALN form and the guidelines in its use was done in the middle of last year, way ahead of the current impeachment of CJ Corona where the loopholes of the old form and its implementation can be clearly seen. It may be late now as so many violations may had been committed in the past but the new form is a welcome development for it will definitely help in tracking the wealth of our civil servants.

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