Chief Justice Diosdado M. Peralta on Friday, October 23, said the Supreme Court’s (SC) decision to deny the release of the copies of the statements of assets, liabilities and networth (SALNs) of judiciary members is for the protection of judges and justices.
“So we came up with the guidelines that we can only release the summary of the SALNs,” he stressed during his online meeting with journalists on the occasion of his first year of tenure as Chief Justice.
If SALNs of judges and justices are released, their addresses and those of their children, and other personal information would be known and those pieces of information may put them at risk, Peralta said.
“That is why we are not only protecting ourselves but protecting also those judges in the lower courts,” he pointed out.
Last month, the SC denied the requests of the Office of the Solicitor General (OSG) and a private law practitioner to secure copies of the SALNs of Associate Justice Marvic Mario Victor F. Leonen for the purpose of filing a quo warranto case against him.
A quo warranto “is a special civil action brought in the name of the Philippines against a person who usurps, intrudes into, or unlawfully holds or exercises a public office, position or franchise.”
Denied were the requests filed by Solicitor General Jose C. Calida and Atty. Lorenzo G. Gadon.
Both Calida and Gadon wanted to secure Leonen’s SALNs for the purpose of filing a quo warranto case against the magistrate.
Gadon requested copies of Leonen’s SALNs for the years 1990 to 2011.
Published reports alleged that Leonen did not file his 2003, 2008 and 2009 SALNs.
The non-filing of SALNs, as required by law for all government officials and employees, was used as basis in the ouster of then Chief Justice Maria Lourdes Sereno.
The quo warranto petition against Sereno was filed by Calida.
Associate Justice Leonen was appointed to the SC in 2012. Before his SC post, he was a professor of the University of the Philippines College of Law.
Last September 1, Ombudsman Samuel Martires issued a memorandum that barred the release of SALNs of government officials and employees unless there is a notarized letter of authority from the declarants, themselves.
Martires said copies of SALNs can be released only to declarants or their authorized representatives, to the courts in relations to pending cases, and to Ombudsman investigators for fact-finding investigations.