Ombudsman Martires stops lifestyle checks on public officials

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Ombudsman Samuel Martires said Tuesday he has stopped conducting on public officials, noting wealth is not equivalent to corruption.

Marites told the lawmakers during a budget hearing at the House of Representatives that the law covering lifestyle checks on public officials needs to be amended because it is “illogical.”

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“Nung umupo ako, pinatigil ko muna ang lifestyle check kasi matagal na ako may duda sa probisyon ng batas tungkol sa lifestyle check. Gusto ko i-propose sa Congress ng amendments sa 6713 kasi yung provisions there, malabo, walang hulog sa logic,” Martires said.

“Bakit ko pinatigil? What is living beyond your means? Iyong kumikita ng P50,000 a month, lives in a small house, nakaipon, bumili ng BMW na promo, zero interest, kayang-kaya niya hulugan, is he living beyond his means? I don’t think so. What he has been distorted values and distorted priorities,” he added.

Republic Act 6713 covers the Code of Conduct and Ethical Standards for Public officials, which states that “[P]ublic officials and employees and their families shall lead modest lives appropriate to their positions and income” and that “they should not indulge in extravagant or ostentatious display of wealth in any form.”

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Ombudsman Martires also restricted public access to public officials’ statements of assets, liabilities, and net worth (SALN) filed in the Ombudsman.

Ombudsman Martires stops lifestyle checks on public officials

“Anong pakialam natin? Bakit natin siya huhusgahan na bumili ng BMW kahit ang bahay niya walang paradahan? Anong pakialam natin sa buhay ng may buhay kung hindi naman siya nagnanakaw?” Martires said.

“We have to redefine what is living beyond your means. What is simple living to me may not be simple living to you or anyone.”

Section 8C.A of RA 6713, meanwhile, requires disclosure of SALNs to the public at a specific time and as long as the requester pays for the reproduction and mailing of the SALN copies.

Ombudsman Martires, however, said that a SALN has no use in the prosecution of a graft case.

“Sa Anti-Graft and Corrupt Practices Act, hindi namin kailangan ng SALN sa [pagpatunay ng] undue injury, undue advantage, even plunder,” he said.

“Saan ba gagamitin ang SALN? Ginagamit lang ang SALN para siraan ang opisyal ng pamahalaan,” Martires added.

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