The Supreme Court has approved the implementation of increase in the salary of first-level court judges in the country.
Chief Justice Teresita Leonardo-de Castro ordered the implementation of the SC’s administrative order mandating the increase in the salary grade of judges in municipal trial courts, municipal circuit trial courts, municipal trial courts in cities and shari’a circuit courts, as one of the several judicial reforms implemented during her brief term as top magistrate.
In an en banc resolution dated Sept. 11, the SC approved that from salary grade 26 and 27, the judges in lower courts will now be increased to 28.
This means that their salaries will increase from P102,000 to P114,000 to about P127,000 effective last July 1, under the third tranche of increases in salaries of government personnel this year.
“The funding requirements for the corresponding salary adjustments shall be sourced from the available savings of the lower courts pending issuance of the Notice of Organization, Staffing and Compensation Action [NOSCA] and release of the corresponding funds by the Department of Budget and Management [DBM],” the resolution said.
The De Castro’s Court approved the recommendation of Court Administrator Jose Midas Marquez for the implementation of the increase in salary of judges even ahead of issuance of the NOSCA and issuance of funds by the DBM.
“The Office of the Court Administrator, through the Financial Management Office, will use the lower courts’ savings deposited in the Local Bank Account to augment the requirement for the grant of the above mentioned upgrading of positions effective 1 July 2018, pending the issuance of NOSCA and release of corresponding funds by the DBM,” Marquez said, in his memorandum to the SC chief.
The tribunal issued the order upon petition filed in August last year by Camarines Sur Ricky Begino, president of the Philippine Trial Judges League who was killed last June 12 on his way home.
When she assumed her post as chief justice last August, De Castro said she wanted her brief leadership in the judicial branch to be remembered as the one “that restored collegiality in the Supreme Court” and “which was able to institute several reforms in the judicial processes.”
Meanwhile, Senator Richard Gordon has proposed the creation of judges-at-large in the lower court to address the overloading of cases in the trial courts which defeat the Constitutional provision on the speedy disposition of cases.
Gordon, chairman of the Committee on Justice and Human Rights, filed Senate Bill No. 2002 or the Judges-At-Large Act of 2018 which seeks the appointment of assisting judges in regional trial courts or second level courts and in the municipal trial courts or first level courts that are overloaded with cases.
“Justice delayed is justice denied. Article III, Section 16 of the 1987 Philippine Constitution specifically states that “all persons shall have the right to a speedy disposition of their cases before all judicial, quasi-judicial or administrative bodies,” he said in the bill’s explanatory note.
However, Gordon pointed out that while the Constitution guarantees the peoples’ right to speedy disposition of cases before the courts, the clogged dockets of the courts cause great delay in the disposition of cases.
Hence, he proposed the appointment of assisting judges—100 to the RTCs and 50 to the MTCs, to assist the regular judges in the disposition of cases in courts with overloaded dockets and ensure speedy dispensation of justice.
“We are aware that there are courts that have overloaded salas or docket,” said Gordon.
“The proposal, here therefore would assign judges at large to support or to assist practically in passing these cases that are loading the docket so that justice could be made more swift.”
The reason why we are doing this is not just to relieve the judges but because of the provision of the Constitution that disposition of cases must be done fast so we won’t violate the theory of speedy dispensation of justice,” Gordon said during the hearing conducted by the Justice and Human Rights Committee on his bill and other similar bills.