OPINION: HOUSE UNDER FIRE?

The House of Representatives and its speaker are currently under fire. The latest controversy sourrounds house resolution limiting scrutiny into the statement of assets, liabilities and net worth (SALN) of congressmen.

The February 1 Philippine Star report summarizes it thus:

"The House of Representatives will require any journalist or interested party to pay a P300 fee to obtain a copy of the statement of assets, liabilities and net worth (SALN) of any of its members.

To access the SALNs of nearly 300 House members, one would have to shell out at least P90,000 – if the request for a copy is granted.

The fee, as stipulated in Resolution 2467 the House adopted on Wednesday, is for the “cost of reproduction and certification, exclusive of mailing cost and other related expenses.”

Expectedly, an uproar has erupted against the house leadership on this SALN issue, which means a restriction against a mandated duty to be transparent. It comes after accusations of pork barrel allocations , a delayed budget and a "flawed" federal constitution- all a stain on House Speaker Gloria Macapagal Arroyo.

Observers opine that this is a new level of "horse trading" to protect interests of greedy politicians and has sullied the reputation of the lower house and the speaker. They fear that important legislation to boost the economy and assure stronger local autonomy, apart from other reforms may take a back seat.

The House has experienced rough sailing as of late, with the replacement of House Majority leader Rolando Andaya Jr. causing a stir.

How this will play out for the House leadership, or assure their continued stay is anyone`s guess.

Photo: ctto