KAKAMPI MO ANG BATAS: 1987 Charter, laws, mandate release of affidavit PDF Print E-mail
Sunday, 27 April 2014 13:45

BY Atty. BATAS MAURICIO

 

LIFE’S INSPIRATIONS: “… To the pure, all things are pure, but to those who are corrupted and do not believe, nothing is pure. In fact, both their minds and consciences are corrupted…” (Titus 1:15, the Holy Bible).

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LAWS MANDATE RELEASE OF NAPOLES AFIDAVIT: If Justice Secretary Leila De Lima is not voluntarily releasing the entirety of the affidavit which Janet Lim Napoles executed to detail the involvement of many lawmakers and other government officials in theP10 billion pork barrel scam which is now the basis of a plunder case before the Sandiganbayan, someone may go to court and seek an order to compel her to do so.

Under Republic Act 6713, which is otherwise known as the Code of Conduct and Ethical Standards for Public Officials and Employees, a law that was passed under the first Aquino presidency in 1989, it is the duty of any and all government officials to make all documents accessible to the public.

Here is what this law says, in its Section 5 (e): “Section 5. Duties of Public Officials and Employees. - In the performance of their duties, all public officials and employees are under obligation to… (e) Make documents accessible to the public. - All public documents must be made accessible to, and readily available for inspection by, the public within reasonable working hours…”

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1987 CHARTER MANDATES THE SAME DISCLOSURE: In fact, even under the 1987 Constitution—again, a creation of the first Aquino presidency—the right of Filipinos to “information on matters of public concern shall be recognized. Access to official records, and to documents and papers pertaining to official acts, transactions, or decisions, as well as to government research data used as basis for policy development, shall be afforded the citizen, subject to such limitations as may be provided by law.”

This right is provided for by Section 7, Article III of the Constitution. Then, under the Constitution’s Section 28, Article II, it is the obligation of the State or the government to adopt and implement a “policy of full public disclosure of all its transactions involving public interest.”

Certainly, the affidavit of Napoles given to Secretary De Lima is an official record or document or paper pertaining to official transactions, containing information on a matter of public concern, which any interested Filipino is entitled to access or be informed of under the foregoing Constitutional directives. Does Secretary De Lima now these Constitutional provisions?

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DE LIMA MAYBE LIABLE FOR GRAFT: Given this overriding Constitutional duty to disclose the contents of the affidavit of Napoles that had given to her and the clear and unequivocal right of Filipinos to know what it contains, De Lima’s refusal to make it public constitutes graft and corruption, under Republic Act 3019, or the Anti-Graft and Corrupt Practices Act.

Under this law, when a government official refuses to do his or her duty as mandated by the Constitution and by existing laws, he or she is deemed to have caused undue injury to the government and is liable criminally. The official shall also be imprisoned from one to ten years.

I am therefore urging Sec. De Lima to release the affidavit of Napoles now, before she is sued to compel her to make it public, and before she is brought to the Ombudsman to make her criminally liable. She maybe thinking she is right in refusing to disclose the contents of the affidavit now, but the laws we cited here are quite clear that she is wrong, with due respect.

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REMINDERS: Please tune in: “Tambalang Batas at Somintac sa DZEC”, at 1062 kHz on the AM band, Mondays to Fridays, at 6 a.m.; “Kakampi Mo Ang Batas sa Radyo Trabungko FM”, at 103.7 mHz in Don Carlos, Bukidnon, Mondays to Fridays, at 7 a.m.; and “Kakampi Mo Ang Batas sa DYKA” at 801 kHz on the AM band (Panay Island), Mondays to Fridays, at 10 a.m.