A LAWMAKER on Thursday questioned the millions of pesos that he said the Supreme Court’s justices were receiving as compensation while failing to speed up the resolution of cases including the Malampaya fund.
During the hearing by the House committee on appropriations on the Judiciary’s proposed budget, Kabayan party-list Rep. Harry Roque said all 15 magistrates were included in the list of highest paid public officials, with one of them receiving P7.8 million last year.
“I believe the justices of the Supreme Court have the same salary grade as congressmen. I receive P90,000 a month so it should be P1.1 million under the revised government salary standardization scheme,” Roque said.
“The figures of CoA [Commission on Audit] are disturbing.”
Each congressman gets a net pay of about P97,000 a month excluding allowances and other perks.
But Deputy Court Administrator Raul Villanueva said the high court’s justices were only getting what they deserved.
“SC justices are not receiving more than what they deserve,” Villanueva said.
While he had nothing against the salaries of high court justices, Roque said, there must be an equal distribution of emolument between the high court justices and other employees of the Supreme Court.
He took note of the slow disposition of cases in the high court, citing as a case in point the Malampaya fund controversy that has been pending for seven years.
It was Roque, a lawyer, who represented a group of petitioners who questioned in 2009 the government’s supposed illegal and unconstitutional use of the Malampaya funds.
Responding to Roque, Supreme Court Associate Justice Presbitero Velasco Jr. said he himself would bring up the matter to the “attention and quick action” of Chief Justice Maria Lourdes Sereno.
A case may take five years to decide in the Regional Trial Court and up to 10 years in the Sandiganbayan.
But Velasco said an RTC judge must be given a “manageable case load” of about 300 cases at most.
“If he has more than that, then he would really have a difficult time ideciding and adjudicating the cases,” Velasco said.
Velasco also brought up before the House appropriations panel the lack of funding for the RTCs created by the laws passed by Congress.
“[When] a new court is created, it should be immediately funded because we badly need warm bodies,” he said.
The Judiciary proposed a budget of P40.4 billion for 2017, but Malacañang approved only P32.5 million.