The P3 million to P7 million in salaries and allowances for Supreme Court (SC) justices is justified, Court Administrator Raul Villanueva said on Thursday.
Villanueva was defending the SC from Rep. Harry Roque of Kabayan party-list group who had questioned the huge salaries of the Supreme Court justices that are a far cry from those of Regional Trial Court (RTC) justices.
Roque cited a recent Commission on Audit report showing Supreme Court Justice Diosdado Peralta being the 14th richest among government officials and the richest among his fellow High Court justices with annual combined salary and allowances amounting to P7.8 million in 2015.
Second to Peralta is SC Justice Presbitero Velasco (P6.1 million), followed by Lucas Bersamin (P5.8 million), Antonio Carpio (P4.97 million), Teresita de Castro (P4.96 million), Chief Justice Maria Lourdes Sereno (P4.8 million), Arturo Brion (P4.5 million), Francis Jardeleza (P4.4 million), Martin Villarama (P4.37 million), Jose Mendoza (P4.35 million); Mariano del Castillo (P4.31 million), Bienvenido Reyes (P4.29 million), Estela Perlas-Bernabe (P4.25 million), Jose Perez (P4.24 million) and Marvic Leonen (P3.89 million).
“We would like to assure that the justices do not receive more than what they deserve. This is provided under our Personnel Services budget, and is also due to their work in committees and tribunals,” Villanueva told lawmakers during a presentation of the judiciary’s P32-billion proposed budget for 2017 before the House appropriations panel.
Villanueva was referring to the Presidential Electoral Tribunal (PET), the Senate Electoral Tribunal (SET) and the House of Representatives Electoral Tribunal (HRET)–courts that decide on electoral protest cases filed after the proclamation of winners by the Commission on Elections.
The PET is composed of all SC justices, while the SET and HRET allot three seats for SC justices, respectively.
Roque, however, said the SC should still take steps in compensating its RTC judges because they have way more caseloads compared with the High Court justices.
“The figures of the SC justices’ salaries are really huge and at the level of those in the GOCCs, which are not even covered by the Salary Standardization Law,” Roque said, referring to Government-Owned and -Controlled Corporations that include Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas, Development Bank of the Philippines, Social Security System and Security and Exchange Commission, among others.
“Even if the RTC judges’ compensation reaches P1.3 million to P1.4 million, the SC should still address this discrepancy since the RTC judges are the ones on the frontline,” he added.