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Senate Word Of The Day
The current word wars and heated debates at the Senate PDAF Investigations are all unfounded when brought under the ambit of SALNs. I am afraid that the powerful role which the SALN can play in this and all such cases is once again being relegated to the background in the same way that it was underutilized in the Corona Trials. Take the present imbroglio about the ‘prejudgment’ issue for instance which consumed valuable man hours being financed by taxpayers.
Given that the SALN is a sworn statement filed under oath, it is the filer himself who admits to the validity of all its contents. As I have pointed out before, each filed SALN is a picture while the difference(s) between two or more SALNs is a story authored by the filer himself. This story or stories will be the same anywhere in the world from an accounting and auditing point of view. Any statement made by someone faithful to this story therefore will simply be an accounting narrative of what the filer himself had earlier related publicly.
He therefore cannot claim to being ‘prejudged’ as he had already unwittingly done the ‘prejudging’ on himself through the act of filing his SALNs. This principle is universal and will apply to everyone mandated by law to file a SALN. This is the ‘unwitting’ import of the SALN which lawyers, accountants, filers and prosecutors still have to be awakened of and taught.
The genius of the framers of the Constitution in including this provision for the protection of the Filipino people is currently being undermined though by the total lack of appreciation for this simple fact: The act of filing a SALN has to be taken very seriously as it is meant as a process of establishing a prima facie case of guilt or innocence for the filer himself. In effect each government employee is allowed to hang or unhang himself annually.
Given the potency of this process in the hands of those who are real experts in accounting and auditing, its full venomous powers can truly be extracted and unleashed. Soon all SALNs filed ideally should be processed thereby triggering red flags all over the place. These red flags will lead to lifestyle audits which will lead to impeachment cases which should then lead to convictions. When this happens, SALNs will verily be the champions of the Filipino people in their fight against graft and corruption.
Benny C. Gonzalez
SALN Advocate and Crusader