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MANILA, Philippines - The Supreme Court (SC) on Wednesday approved the release in full of the 2011 Statement of Assets, Liabilities and Net worth (SALN) of all justices and judges in the Philippines.
In a press conference, Acting SC Spokesperson Atty. Gleo Guerra said that the High Court should formulate a guideline on the release of the SALN, which will be taken up in its special en banc session on June 13, 2012.
"The release of the SALN was a collective decision of the Court," Guerra said.
The Philippines has some 2,000 justices and judges.
The special en banc session was called on Wednesday by Acting SC Chief Justice Antonio Carpio.
Associate Justices Diosdado Peralta and Lucas Bersamin were absent during the special en banc session.
Guerra said that both Justices Peralta and Bersamin were now in Baguio City for a lecture.
Guerra said that the High Court's decision, in effect, overruled the 1989 SC ruling in the Alejandrino case, where the High Court unanimously voted to deny the request for SALN which are directly or indirectly traced to a litigant, lawyer or any party with a pending case before the Court.
The 1989 SC ruling stated that there had to be a "legitimate reason" for such a request as well as good faith and not fish for information that can be used to influence a court's decision.
The 1989 SC ruling was reiterated in 1992, when, in a resolution, the High Court said that the disclosure of SALNs not only of High Court justices but justices from the Court of Appeals, Sandiganbayan, Court of Tax Appeals, lower court judges and court personnel, have been restricted to shield them from acts that may "endanger, diminish or destroy their independence and objectivity in the performance of their judicial functions."
"In effect [overruling the Alejandrino case] is the net effect," Guerra said.
However, Guerra clarified that it is a SALN but not waiver.
Impeached Chief Justice Renato C. Corona signed an unconditional waiver allowing the Anti-Money Laundering Council (AMLC), the Bureau of Internal Revenue (BIR) and the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) to look into his bank accounts and business interests.
Corona's act was hailed as a good start to show transparency in the government with some members of Congress and Senator Francis "Chiz" Escudero signing similar waiver and challenged the other government officials to do the same.
However, Corona was removed from office after he admitted that he did not include in his SALN his US$ 2.4 million deposit into four bank accounts and P80 million deposit in three bank accounts.