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P500k penalty for leaking information on officials’ assets

Offenders can get 10 years imprisonment

SPEAK NO EVIL: Morwaeng explained the new law

Government has introduced a P500,000.00 penalty for any individual who leaks information on the assets and liabilities of officials.

This was said by the Minister of Presidential Affairs, Governance and Public Administration, Kabo Morwaeng, when presenting the Declaration of Assets and Liabilities Amendment Bill this week in the National Assembly.

“The penalties for using information contained in declaration for purposes other than those intended by the Act, for dealing with unauthorized disclosure of information by officers of the Directorate and disclosure of confidential information by third parties have been aligned. Fines for all offences will not exceed P500,000.00 and terms of imprisonment will not exceed 10 years imprisonment,” said the minister.

This is a maximum penalty of the offence which is far heavier than causing death by dangerous driving; threatening to kill another person; or arson among other offences.

The Minister said the Directorate is now operational and has received 747 declaration forms, 38 of which are from legislators.

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The amendments will also address loopholes identified in the Act, such as making it mandatory for procurement officers to declare their interests as well as positions in parastatals and private enterprises, positions which are equivalent to position of Deputy Director in the public service.

“The Bill also ensures that the obligation to submit declarations in the disciplined forces should start from the rank of which is equivalent to Deputy Director, which in the case of the army is Lieutenant Colonel, and not Colonel as appears in the Act. In the prison Service, the equivalent rank is that of Assistant Commissioner and not Senior Assistant Commissioner,” said the minister.

Mayors and Chairpersons of local authorities should declare to the minister responsible for local government, while the Director General of the Directorate of Ethics and Integrity and Corruption and Economic Crime (DCEC) will now be required to declare to the President and not minister for Presidential Affairs as was the case.

“Section 8 (2) of the Act makes it a criminal offence for failure to declare within 60 days from date of assumption of office. Another notable amendment is that where the value of interest, income or liabilities is altered by P200,000.00, a person subject to the Act will not be expected to submit a fresh declaration. He or she will only be required to update the information in his or her declaration,” the minister said.

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