House to ratify bill granting additional retirement benefits to judges

November 13, 2009 4:31 pm 

MANILA, Nov. 13 — To promote equity and maintain competence in the judiciary, the House of Representatives is set to ratify a proposed Act granting additional retirement, survivorship and other benefits to members of the judiciary under House Bill 6820.

Speaker Prospero Nograles said the bicameral report on the said judicial reform measure has been transmitted to the House Committee on Rules chaired by Majority Leader Arthur Defensor for proper plenary ratification.

"It is crucial that we promote and maintain competence, equity and efficiency in the judicial system," said Nograles, principal author of one of the nine bills consolidated under HB 6820.

The proposed Act, under the reconciled bicameral committee report — HB 6820 and Senate Bill 1620 — covers the justices of the Supreme Court, the Court of Appeals, the Sandiganbayan, the Court of Tax Appeals, a Regional Trial Court judge, Metropolitan Trial Court, Municipal Trial Court, Shari'a District Court, Shari'a Circuit Court, or any other court hereafter established.

The proposed law also affects those who have rendered at least 15 years in the Judiciary or in any other branch of the Government, or both; who retires for having attained the age of 70 years; or resigns by reason of their incapacity to discharge the duties of their office as certified by the Supreme Court.

Those covered will receive salary plus the highest monthly aggregate of transportation, representation and other allowances such as personal economic relief allowance (PERA) and additional compensation allowance which they were receiving at the time of their retirement or resignation.

Likewise, they will receive non-wage benefits in the form of education scholarship (free tuition fee in a state university or college) to one child of all justices and judges, provided that such grant will cover only one bachelor's degree.

It also provides that when the covered members of the judiciary have attained the age of 60 years and have rendered at least 15 years service in the Government, the last three of which shall have been continuously rendered in the judiciary, they shall likewise be entitled to retire and receive a pro-rata monthly pension.

The pro-rata computation will be the number of years in the government or judiciary divided by 15 years times basic pay plus the highest monthly aggregate transportation, representation and other allowances.

However, the measure provides that no retiring justice or judge of the aforementioned courts or their surviving spouses receiving the benefit under the Act, during the time that they are receiving said pension shall appear as counsel before any court in any civil case wherein the government or any subdivision or instrumentality thereof is the adverse party, or in any criminal cases wherein an incumbent or former officer or employee of the Government is accused of an offense committed in relation to their office.

They also cannot collect any fee for their appearance in any administrative proceedings to maintain an interest to the government, national, provincial or municipal, or any of its legally constituted officers.

The measure also provides lump sum gratuities to the justices' or judges' heirs computed on the basis of the highest monthly salary plus other benefits provided under the measure. (PNA)

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