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Budgetary Tragedy of the Philippine Judiciary
« on: September 06, 2010, 04:12:52 PM »
By Lira Dalangin-Fernandez
INQUIRER.net

Budget woes continue to hound the judiciary and Malacanang’s proposed appropriation for its co-equal branch for 2011 appear not to offer any solution.

Appearing before the hearing of the committee on appropriations, Court Administrator and Supreme Court spokesman Midas Marquez said Malacanang’s proposed budget for the judiciary is only P14.3 billion, as against the P27.1 billion it is asking.

The budget cuts will now deprive local courts of the renovation of their respective halls of justice such as the one in Cagayan de Oro.

In 2007, the judiciary for 0.76 percent of the national budget; it received 0.88 percent in 2008; and 0.94 percent in 2009.

“The judiciary has not been given even one percent of the national budget in the last four years and worse, there is a high probability in 2011 of a decreased budget,” Marquez said.

Getting support from the minority bloc in the House of Representatives, Minority leader and Albay Representative Edcel Lagman said the judiciary should be given the budget it is asking, and asked Malacanang to increase the P1.65-trillion proposed budget for 2011 to accommodate the request.

“In behalf of the minority, we have agreed to support the proposed 2011 budget for the Supreme Court and the judiciary as submitted to the Department of Budget and Management. If the majority cannot accommodate the entire proposal, then we are supporting adequate increases to the budget,” Lagman said.

According to Marquez, Malacanang’s cuts in the proposed budget of the judiciary will affect big ticket items that would remain without funds such as the P10.3 billion allocated for personnel services; the P416 million fund for retirees; P1.3 million health allowances for workers; and, the P1.875 billion proposed budget for capital outlay, including the building of a Manila City hall of justice.

Marquez also rued that the needed computers and other equipment of local courts will not have funds if their proposed budget is not granted.

For instance, he said, most local courts have only two computers per court, while the ideal number of computer should be at least six units. He said this results in backlog of cases to as much as 4,000 cases, when the ideal number of backlog should be only about 500 cases.

The cuts in budget would also thwart the judiciary’s plan to hire more court personnel and judges to improve speed of disposal of cases.

He said the ratio of judge to inhabitants right now is 1:50,000, when the ideal ratio is 1:10,000.

Sorsogon Representative Salvador Escudero said the judiciary should be given the budget it is requesting.

“Indeed, justice delayed is justice denied. I commiserate with the judiciary,” he said.

Cagayan de Oro Representative Rufus Rodriguez lamented that while the judiciary is one of the three equal branches of government, it only gets less than one percent of the national budget. He said the budget should be overhauled to give adequate fund to the judiciary.

The judiciary is composed of the Supreme Court, Court of Appeals, Court of Tax Appeals, Sandiganbayan, and the lower courts.

The budget cuts will not deprived local courts of the renovation of their respective halls of justice such as the one in Cagayan de Oro.

"The walls in the Cagayan de Oro Hall of Justice are only up because of the termites," Marquez said.

He added the renovation for this particular building needs about P100 million.


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