• House will not drop investigation of JPE

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    The House of Representatives is not quitting its investigation on the Supreme Court’s (SC) Judiciary Development Fund (JDF) anytime soon as lawmakers scrutinize the High Court’s “pork”.

    Cavite 2nd District Rep. Elpidio Barzaga Jr. on Sunday questioned the irregularities on the spending of the JDF, particularly by the SC and Court of Appeals (CA).

    Barzaga noted that the SC and CA’s collections in 2012 amounted to P32 million and P5 million, respectively. The high tribunal however spent P65 million, and the Appellate Court, P42 million.

    The lawmaker added that the JDF has an outstanding balance of P1.77 billion as of June 30, which should be allocated to capital outlay but remains to be untouched by the judiciary.

    “Why wasn’t [the fund]spent by the SC? Where would they get funds for computers and office equipment?” Barzaga said.

    The lawmaker also pointed out that the way the JDF was used by the CA and other lower courts remain hazy.

    “With the [SC], the 80 percent [of the JDF]was specified for the cost of living allowance… but the Supreme Court did not specify the expenditures of the [CA], Sandiganbayan, Court of Tax Appeals, and lower courts,” he explained.

    Barzaga said that the lawmakers intend to look into the Commission on Audit (COA)’s report on the JDF.

    “I believe the Supreme Court has the obligation to show an example by disclosing how they spend the judiciary development funds in the spirit of transparency and public accountability,” Barzaga said.

    He however maintained that the scrutiny of JDF is not retaliation against the SC for announcing the Priority Development Assistance Fund (PDAF) as unconstitutional last November.

    House Speaker Feliciano Belmonte Jr. and Majority Leader Neptali Gonzales 2nd earlier backed the deeper scrutiny of the JDF.

    The JDF, which was created in 1984 under former president Ferdinand Marcos, is sourced from the fees collected by the courts in the country, 80 percent of which should be spent on judiciary employees’ cost of living allowances and the remaining 20 percent on infrastructure improvement and capital outlays.

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