P1.2B allocated for SC transfer to The Fort

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The House of Representatives has earmarked Php1.2 billion in the approved 2016 national budget for the transfer of the Supreme Court to The Fort, Pasig City Representive Roman Romulo said over the weekend.

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“The Supreme Court deserves its own grounds and its own building. We understand the funding will be used to acquire the new land at The Fort,” Romulo, a lawyer by profession, said.

He also said the transfer would help decongest downtown Manila.

At present, the Supreme Court, which has more than 3,000 employees, holds offices in a building and lot owned by the University of the Philippines at the corner of Padre Faura Street and Taft Avenue in Ermita, Manila.

“The money for the construction of the new Supreme Court building is also already there. It is covered by a Php3.29-billion multi-year obligational authority,” Romulo said.

An obligational authority is the necessary approval that precedes budget spending by a government agency or department, granted by Congress through appropriations.

This means the funding requirements of the transfer from 2016 to 2019 is assured,” he said.

The initial Php122.7 million needed for the project management as well as the detailed architectural and engineering design of the new building is included in the 2016 budget, according to Romulo.

Chief Justice Ma. Lourdes Sereno said in July that the high court hopes to move to The Fort, Taguig City by 2019.

Meanwhile, Romulo said the entire Judiciary is getting an aggregate new funding of Php26.7 billion next year, or 22 percent greater than its allocation this year.

He said the amount includes Php2.3 billion to pay for the operations of lower courts, some of which have become dependent on local governments for facilities. PNA

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