THE heat is on.
The antagonism between the House of Representatives and the Supreme Court is now worsening as House Majority Leader Neptali Gonzales 2nd urged the Congress to revisit the law forming Judiciary Development Fund (JDF), which corresponds as the SC’s “pork.”
In a news conference on Tuesday, Gonzales said that the House is set to review the 29-year old Presidential Decree No. 1949 by former Pres. Ferdinand Marcos once the Congress resumes its session on January 20 next year.
“It is also [right]time to revisit the JDF so that the accountability and transparency does not refer only to the executive, does not refer only to the legislature but also to judiciary,” Gonzales said.
Under the law, 80 percent of the fund should be used to augment the allowances of the members and employees of the judiciary and 20 percent of it should go to the financing of its capital outlays. It is sourced from the legal fees collected by the different courts in the country.
While he said that it is not an act of revenge against the High Court, Gonzales said that the SC should also be able to cleanse its own territory, not just the other branches of government like the Congress and the Executive department.
“It’s not that we want to retaliate against the SC, but because if what is now demanded of is transparency—which the Supreme Court does too—then the SC need not to go out of its own boundaries. It should also be able to mend its own fences, not just the others’,” he said.
Until now, according to Gonzales, the SC has not yet divulged if how much JDF amounts to.
The Congress has been in battle with the SC since the start of the Aquino administration. In 2012, it impeached former Chief Justice Renato Corona for his failure to declare his statement of assets, liabilities, and net worth accurately.
Just last November, the SC uninamously declared the PDAF, also known as the pork barrel and the lifeline of lawmakers, as unconstitutional. It is followed by its disqualification of Marinduque Rep. Regina Reyes for her failure to renounce her American citizenship.
Last week, Oriental Mindoro Rep. Reynaldo Umali said that he intends to impeach at least two justices for overstepping their line of duty by filing a House resolution.
Meanwhile, Gonzales also said that come 2014, the Congress will strengthen its oversight functions after it was stripped off of the PDAF. Jhoanna Ballaran