Supreme Court Administrator Midas Marquez said on Tuesday that two technical working groups (TWG) created by Chief Justice Ma. Lourdes Sereno delayed the processing of applications for the retirement benefits and pensions of justices and judges or their spouses.
Marquez, in his testimony before the House Committee on Justice on Tuesday, said the formation of two TWGs, one on December 22, 2015 and another in July 2016, resulted in a major application backlog.
According to him, the applications received by the Office of the Clerk of Court En Banc were held in “abeyance” since the formation of the TWGs. He said no applications were acted upon for two years, one month and five days.
But Sereno’s counsel said the delay is not the Chief Justice’s fault and that the facts presented by Marquez are non-impeachable.
“There is a backlog in the process, not because Sereno is wrong or because there are justices in the Supreme Court that are being punished but because there are a lot of things that needs to be resolved, there are a lot of policy decisions that needs to be decided upon as the Supreme Court en banc,” Jojo Lacanilao, a spokesperson of Sereno, said.
Lacanilao added that some justices and judges have pending administrative cases that should be concluded first.
“The procedure that as they say has an “inordinate delay” is not in purpose. It just so happened that there were a lot of things and policy issues that needs to be resolved. Before, the application for benefits were resolved on an “ad-hoc” basis and the Supreme Court then resolved [the applications]on an “incumbent” basis, that’s why a special committee was formed along with the TWG,” Josa Deinla, another lawyer and spokesperson of the Chief Justice, said.
Lacanilao maintained that the formation of the TWGs is not illegal because three justices approved it and that the implementation is part of the rules of the Supreme Court.
In his complaint, lawyer Larry Gadon claimed that Sereno delayed the release of survivorship benefits to the widow of Court of Appeals Justice Jose Colayco, Dolores Colayco.
Dolores died seven days after the high court approved the release of her benefits.
Gadon, in his impeachment complaint, claimed that the delayed applications include those from 30 surviving spouses of justices and judges who are 70 to 90 years old.
He said the “inordinate delay” in resolving the applications for benefits was caused by Sereno’s “incompetence” and “insensitivity.”