SCORP’s feather is ruffled over the budget proposal that hikes only one BILLION of its previous budget from what it perceived requirement of P27.1 Billion for 2011.
Malacanang submitted to Congress on August 24 a P14.3 Billion budget for the judiciary which was one billion more than its previous budget and the SCORP, through its spokesman Midas Marquez was sore about it. SCORP wants its own original budget proposal wholly appropriated in the face of PNOY’s invalidation of the obscene salaries and bonuses of other government executives.
SCORP argues that the increase in its budget is necessary for infrastructure and salaries of justices and judges. I have no quarrel with the infrastructure component of the budget but I find my own revulsion over the request for additional money for salaries of the distinguished justices. Come on, these justices would not even file their Statement of Assets, Liabilities and Networth (SALN), so the people can see that indeed their salaries need an upgrade. And if you consider that a judicial post only pays a pittance, how do you explain that one vacant judge position draws a coterie of applicants?
Ah, yes the perks of the office! The salary is not that important anyway because most of them are resourceful enough to draw income from most unlikely sources, the litigants. But how come, the linchpin of the protest over an increase of one billion in the budget of the judiciary is for the most part, the salaries of justices and judges? – Did the SCORP through its spokesman think salary increases is a good selling pitch to get its budget of P27.1 Billion from Malacanang and Congress so its members will be insulated from corruption? Then this ploy could do the trick, but it is a mendacious trick nonetheless.
Well, if the SCORP wants to upgrade the salaries and bonuses of its distinguished brethrens and other judges despite public’s contempt over the quality of services it has been delivering to the public, why not get the funds from the Judicial Development Fund? JDF is a multi-billion-peso fund, which is administered by the Chief Justice of the Supreme Court, who has sole authority to authorize and approve disbursements from the Fund. The Judicial Development Fund is intended principally to provide the members and personnel of the Judiciary with an additional cost of living allowance.
The chief source of the JDF is the filing fees and other court fees the court charges from the people availing of the court services which had been increased more than 200 per cent in the last decade. There is no accounting of these funds to date, if you ask former Congressmen William Fuentebella and Gilberto Teodoro.
Moreover, if we agree on additional emoluments for our justices and judges, are we not rewarding them for poor performance? If they performed badly and get the raise, would that not encourage them to become more lazy so they can get the raise the next time around? Is this not the classic quip of the “bleeding the treasury dry?”
It is almost axiomatic to refer to members of Congress as crocodiles whenever they appropriate for themselves huge pork barrels funds while the members of the Court have long acquired the unsavory moniker as “hoodlums in robes.” But with increasing public contempt over their avarice, in the face of their bland delivery of justice, “vultures in robes” might as well fit the size.