The SALN is a double-edged sword that is misused now as if it were a blunt weapon. It is currently seen as an anti-corruption tool to get villains out of the office without anyone really knowing how to use it. Prosecutors and especially the ombudsman’s office must learn to expertly use and analyze accounting forms and accounts as the strongest evidence against the accused declarant.
I cannot imagine that the constitutionalists of 1987 are barely emerging from a regime of plunder creating a blunt instrument to prevent and combat corruption. In their wisdom, they have used the universal principles of accounting and auditing as the basis for upholding and even extracting the honesty of public servants. SALN is nothing more than the legal term for the balance sheet which is one of the three fundamental annual reports (along with the income statement and the cash flow statement) on which the international business community relies. to measure the financial health of individuals, partnerships and corporations. .
While Big Data is used all over the world to create solutions for everything else, I personally find it offensive that it is not used in our country to solve the problem of corruption, incompetence and poverty. .
With approximately 1.73 million, 1.76 million, and 1.8 million SALN filers for 2019, 2020, and 2021, respectively, we have a ton of SALN accumulating every year from 1988 until now that could be used. as Big Data effectively usable against this chronic audience. Enemy # 1 called Corruption. According to current estimates of corruption amounting to 25 to 35 percent of the national budget per year, say over the past three years, this may at least be a potential source of revenue amounting to 1,000 billion pesos per year. This can finance both the war on drugs and the financial costs and losses caused by the Covid pandemic.
Because the public service is a public trust, every public servant is expected to serve honestly and lead a modest life, which requires everyone to file an annual affidavit of assets, liabilities and equity (SALN) as proof of these loyal services to the nation no later than April 30 which is no later than 15 days from the filing of its annual income tax.
Since its adoption in 1987, anyone who enters government, whether elected or appointed, knows whether reluctantly or not, he must complete the prescribed SALN form. It’s a well-known saying that “if you have nothing to hide you have nothing to fear” YET at all entry levels everyone seems to be trying to overcome this accounting responsibility.
The SALN is the set of the following elements:
– It is the declarant’s declaration of truth about what he has, must and possesses.
– He represents everything he has, everything he owes and everything he has.
– Conversely, everything that does not belong to his SALN turns out to be his, constitutes a hidden wealth.
– Although everything inside his SALN turns out not to be his, is an unexplained wealth.
– It’s NEVER about how rich you are.
– Rather, it is about how much a person’s wealth honestly increases every year.
SALN is our people’s deadliest weapon against corruption. He alone is the best witness for or against the same official who prepared and testified it. Its admissibility in court cannot be questioned as it is the best proof of itself. In its current state, it is also a declaration on the honor of the depositor with a waiver of his secrecy.
As such, no one can claim to be prejudiced when an accuser cites their SALN against them.
A SALN can be queried when:
– its own inputs do not balance and / or conflict with each other
– or whistleblowers offer testimonies relating to its alleged undeclared and / or hidden wealth.
Authorities can use any combination of the following to uncover the truth:
– NBI lifestyle audits
– AMLAC red flags
– BIR tax audits
– Title and property searches (bank deposits, TCT, LTO).
In the event that a depositor cannot explain a SALN discrepancy resulting from some or all of the above mentioned actions, the presumption of innocence is lost and the burden of proof shifts to the accused depositor. Then, the condemnation is expeditious on the basis of the unexplained divergences of the SALN.
The lethality of the double-edged sword is fair since the same numbers it contains will convict or exonerate the suspect reporter. There can be no ambiguity of interpretation because all SALNs are balance sheets whose components each have well-defined rules and meanings from the disciplines of accounting, accounting and auditing which have been universally accepted. in the business world.
Because a SALN is a balance sheet, it will always be linked to the immediately preceding income statement from which it should have been derived. A bulletproof SALN is one that simply reports all the effects of a true income tax return on the previous SALN. Likewise, an income statement can be taken from any two balance sheets. In addition, the cash flow from these financial statements will show how the income statement and the balance sheet have interacted for a given period.
Finally, financial ratio analyzes can be applied to balance sheet and income statement figures in order to compare them with standards derived from best practices and acceptable indices. This exercise will lead to red flags as defined by Wikipedia: a term for various indicators and signals of attention and awareness, both explicit and implicit. It can be used in a variety of contexts, generally as a warning or when things seem too good to be true as well as unexpected results.
At a minimum, we need to be able to build our own SALN index to determine what should be the acceptable annual increases in assets, liabilities and net worth. The current conundrum is how to judge the calculated increases shown in the filer’s net worth. Has it increased within acceptable limits or does it need to be flagged for further explanation by the registrant? Each filed SALN can now be compared to the details of the SALN Index which will produce our long annual list of reported filers.
SALN’s red flags are by no means a reflection of guilt, but rather a “focus of attention” on accounting treatments that require a response through more detailed documentation.
When reported, everyone on the long list must provide a logical and legal reason (i.e. sale of long-acquired real estate, inheritance) for the reported entry. Those who are able to give a valid reason can now be removed from the list of reported registrants. Conversely, those who are unable to provide an acceptable reason should be investigated accordingly. This proposed system of using a Big Data SALN index to produce our long list of reported filers is therefore exploitable and can root out corruption one SALN at a time.
Imagine a fully objective anti-corruption offensive in 7 months, directing all government resources against the senior executives who have the highest number of red flags resulting from clinical scans of their previous SALNs. This annual report to the people will be made by category (cabinet members, senators, members of Congress, party list representatives, governors, members of the provincial council, mayors, city councilors, military / police, provincial commanders, port customs collectors, BIR officials, CoA agency auditors, officers and board or directors of GOCC) and include all other broad categories.
Because SALNs are business tools borrowed by the legal profession and not the other way around, they can be compared to current best practices in business and to the standards of the respective subsets, giving us a peer-to-peer comparison of the whole bureaucracy. Since each reported entry is symptomatic of its own type of anomaly, the appropriate branch of government can be immediately mobilized to pursue the matter. Thus, title searches, lifestyle audits, tax assessments, AMLAC disclosures, bribery investigations, Sandiganbayan and / or mediator filing and others do not. will no longer be seen as witch hunts or political persecution.
This review process needs to be institutionalized and repeated year after year as the government’s main objective against corruption and bribery. Since all cases emanating from this program are charges based on the SALN, there will always be a prima facie case against the defendant who is accused by their own affidavits. Court cases under this anti-corruption initiative would be timely and most cost-effective for the government as garnishments, confiscations and perpetual exclusion from public service are expected to be achievable common benefits.
In this system, the accused will be confronted with his own confessions and arguments in violation of accounting and auditing standards and best business practices. The cases will be cut and dried. Justice will be faster. And the recovery of the loot will be faster.
In the absence of any other proposal from the various presidential candidates, this document presents itself as the only concrete program against corruption within the government. It deserves to be adapted into a common platform by all parties concerned. At the very least, let the debate over its merits and drawbacks begin before the phrase “GOVERNMENT SERVICE” becomes an oxymoron, if it hasn’t yet.