Strenghten the Judiciary & Justice system

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When President Benigno S. Aquino 3rd admitted in mid-August that he was open to a second term in office, the main reason that he gave was very alarming. The vindictive P-Noy wants to check the powers of the Judiciary, particularly the Supreme Court that had ruled unanimously on the unconstitutionality of both the Priority Development Assistance Fund (PDAF) and the despicable Disbursement Acceleration Program (DAP)
The puerile president claims that the Judiciary appears to be using its powers of judicial review to check on the Executive and Legislative branches without restraint. Mr. Aquino spoke of “judicial reach” wherein both “Congress and the Executive may act, but they can be punished anytime.” What a pathetic justification for a second term!

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As I wrote in my column of August 16, 2014 (“Sheer Hypocrisy of President B. S. Aquino 3rd”), Mr. Aquino can amend the Constitution to correct the powers of the Judiciary without any term extension. The Chief Executive can do it in the next 16 months beginning September 2014 to December 2015. There is more than enough time to do it.

Thus, there is really no need for PNoy to seek a second term as President of the Philippines just to check the powers of the Supreme Court. However, due to his childish character of exacting vengeance, PNoy wants to get back at the High Tribunal.

President B. S. Aquino 3rd had used the PDAF pork barrel to control the members of Congress. The pork barrel funds would have reached P25 billion in the 2014 national budget if it were not declared unconstitutional by the Supreme Court in November last year.

More than two months ago in early July, President B. S. Aquino 3rd had already threatened the Judiciary of a “collision” in his response aired on national television and radio to the DAP decision being unconstitutional. Thus, a strategy to intimidate the Supreme Court. As if on cue, Aquino’s allies in the House of Representatives called for the abolition of and the sudden hearing to review the Judicial Development Fund (JDF).

DBM slashed P12B  from 2015 Judiciary Budget

After the ruling on July 1, 2014 that the DAP is “unconstitutional,” President Aquino attacked the High Tribunal three times in a short span of ten days. The first time was on July 14 when he foolishly threatened the justices and urged them to change their mind. Less than 24 hours later the next day, the childish Chief Executive excoriated the Supreme Court decision on the DAP during the visit of the World Bank president.

In retaliation, the Department of Budget & Management (DBM) slashed P12 billion from the original proposed budget of P32.6 billion for the Judiciary and only submitted P20.3 billion to the House of Representatives. The Supreme Court and lower courts shall get P18.1 billion, while the Sandiganbayan, the Court of Appeals and the Court of Tax Appeals will receive a total of P2.13 billion

Thus, the Judiciary would most likely only receive P20.0 billion for 2015. This is only about 10% of the 2014 budget of the DPWH, which is over P200 billion. The P20.0 billion is also LESS than 1.0 % of the P2.6 Trillion 2015 National Budget. The Supreme Court had asked the House Appropriations Committee to retain and approve its proposed P32.6 billion budget instead of the P20.3 billion the DBM sought on its behalf.

Supreme Court Deputy Administrator Raul Villanueva, who attended the House Committee hearing last August, pointed out that the increase in the Judiciary Budget over the past five years (2011-2015) is “lower than the increase in the national budget (General Appropriations Act or GAA) for each other.” (Inquirer, August 15, 2014)
Villanueva continued that “as a result thereof, the declining appropriation to the judiciary’s budget resulted in a share of only 0.78 percent in the national budget, one of the lowest in recent years.” He stressed the High Tribunal’s  original proposed budget of P32.6 billion would have represented a 1.25 percent share in the national budget.

What the Executive Branch has done – particularly the Office of the President (OP) in Malacañang – through the DBM headed by the chief architect of the diabolic DAP, weakens the Judiciary by depriving it of the wherewithal to perform its mandate as a co-equal branch of government.

Proposed budget  for Judiciary  and Justice system

The P32.6-billion budget for the Judiciary is actually a relatively small sum compared to the proposed 2015 budget of P2.6-trillion. What the Judiciary needs is at least P40.0 billion per annum to strengthen the rule of law in the land:  P35.0 billion for the regular budgets, while another P5.0 billion each year can be spent for better infrastructure in their buildings—courts and offices, computers and equipment, and motor vehicles.

Out of the suggested P35.0-billion budget, P30.0 billion is for the Supreme Court and lower Courts, while the P5.0 billion is for the Court of Appeals, the Sandiganbayan, and the Court of Tax Appeals.

Other than the Judiciary, it is important to strengthen the Justice System. The Department of Justice (DOJ), particularly the National Prosecution Service (NPS) and the National Bureau of Investigation (NBI), should get an additional budget of P 2.0 billion on top of its regular budget.

Likewise, the Criminal Investigation & Detection Group (CIDG) of the Philippine National Police (PNP) should receive an extra P1.0 billion. No less than a former CIDG chief early this year said that the PNP is “not effective” against criminality.

Lastly, the Office of the Ombudsman should receive an extra P1.0 billion to enhance its capabilities. Their current budget of only P1.7 billion is a measly amount compared to its tremendous mandate enshrined in the Constitution of fighting not only corruption but also inefficiency in the delivery of public services by the government.

Unless and until the Judiciary and the government institutions engaged in investigation and prosecution are given the necessary resources, then the status quo will continue and there is no hope for our country and people.

rbrpilipinas@gmail.com

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8 Comments

  1. Judiciary are also power player when reaching decision. Without any delicadeza, like Justice Ong, SC Corona, these are types of justices, which beholden by their benefactor, the problem with PNOY she choose SC CJ Sereno to play the same game like her predecessor but when the later turndown his proposal regarding PDAF and DAP suddenly Aquino, change it’s course, now with CJ Sereno at helm, by the will of GOD on her side, no indebted or utang na loob. She is just demonstrating what is true and embodied the fairness now the Executive cry fowl. Inutile Is absolute when people started to observed the palace behavior and actions. So CJ Sereno kept it up GOD grace is of your side. Your selected not elected but you show more responsible and integrity, rather than elected crooked officials.

  2. The Judiciary branch should get more increased in a Budget that usually give decent salaries to all judges and justices from municipal, city, provincial (RTC), Court of Appeals and SC. The salary structure must be such that it can sustain a decent living standard for every judge or Justice in order to avoid a system of “Justice for sale” to highest bidder/ party. It is common knowledge that “fixing high value cases” has been going on in the Courts, even in the higher appellate Courts, up to now. Seldom have the Supreme Court terminated or dismissed a judge or Justice of a higher court, only until recently when SC terminated Justice Gregory Ong of the Sandiganbayan, which everyone, including me hailed as a laudable SC decision! There are few bad apples in the Judiciary who intend only to enrich themselves by milking contending parties to a case. Since the Courts has the mandate to dispense Justice to all, rich or poor, it must appear clean, fair and unbiased to all parties. The courts, especially the lower courts are in the frontline in dealing with the public and, hence must appear beyond reproach. To give the judges decent living wages will at least help avoid the temptation of offering their courts as a “market place for huggling” or as public auction place. High profile cases like the “Lacson-Dacer murder case, “Web, et.al.”‘ “Hacienda Luisita land distribution case” , “Fortune Tobacco/Lucio Tan Tax Case”, to name some which public perceived to have been “fixed” as “Justice sold for a price” had sold the soul and character of some Justices for a price and abandoned their sworn duty to serve true Justice. It is possible these “justices for sale” are ingrained twisted persons no matter how much decent pay they get. But still decent pay may help deter justices to succumb to selling their moral values for a price. Higher decent pay calls for an increase in budgetary needs of the judiciary to give them incentive to dispense fair and…

  3. I think you will find in most countries the judiciary doesnt have their own budget thats worked out by the justices. It will be paid for out of government funds worked out by a committee & paid out by the government department assigned to pay out these things. Its the judiciarys job to concentrate on trying people in court not working out & dispensing budgets.

  4. I think it is time to review just the relevant the current Phils judiciary structure as it pertains to the Philippine society’s context. Right now, we have judges who are accountable to no one other than themselves and whose actions and decisions are not also not accountable to one other than themselves. In short, with the current setup in the Phils of having 3 main branches of government namely the executive, legislative and judiciary, the judiciary has the power to overturn decisions of the executive and legislative BUT neither the executive nor legislative has any control over the judiciary except thru the budgetary process. If the Filipino people is going to continue to accept this government setup then they might as well abolish the executive and legislative branches and have the judiciary run the govt – that way decisions made are immediately executory and not subject to review by anyone in the land!

  5. You are right on. The courts must be strengthened and criminals jailed. Cutting the Judiciary budget while increasing all Executive Department budgets is ridiculous.

  6. P. Akialamiro@yahoo.com on

    I agree. There should be a strong judiciary and judicial system. This branch of the government is more independent than the other two branches.considering the fact that they are not elected by the people. They are appointed for ‘life’, unless legally removed from office. A stronger judiciary and judicial system is the ‘least’ likely evil among the three branches as far as strength over the other two is concerned. Besides, a Supreme Court en banc is least likely to be bribed. The people have more confidence in the Supreme Court than Congress or the Executive branch, especially at this time with the DAP and PDAF fiasco uncovered.

    Assuming that the SC has evinced more power after declaring these two funds unconstitutional, it is a “lesser evil” than with this sitting president execising his power with a subservient members of congress. Who else could have checked the excessive power of the Executive branch? We would have been in an “irreversible” coma leading to the death of democracy in our country. In a way, thanks to the Napoles-Estrada tandem!

    • Thank you for the insights. In progressive and prosperous countries, their Judiciary & Justice system is very strong that is the two other branches of government will think many times before abusing their powers. Many countries also have their Constitutional Courts on top of their Supreme Courts that decides on matters pertaining to constitutional issues.

      The power of Judicial Review given by the Constitution to Supreme Court is a mighty instrument to look at the actions of the two other branches of governments. In fact, the Supreme Court can legally do Judicial Activism on matters that the Executive Branch fail to do. It can COMPEL government agencies to do their jobs or take specific actions on issues.that affect our country and people.