Harzard pay for RTC judges pushed

March 26, 2014 9:40 am 

MANILA, March 26 — A neophyte lawmaker has proposed the grant of “hazard pay” to Regional Trial Court Judges nationwide.

“The nature of work of RTC judges exposes them to risks and perils to life considering that they handle heinous crimes, syndicated crimes and drug cases,” Rep. Edcel “Grex” B. Lagman said.

Lagman is author of HB 4024 granting hazard pay, equivalent to 25 percent of monthly basic salary, to RTC judges and the necessary appropriations to implement the same.

Congress, he said, has defined “Hazard Pay” as a “premium given only to government personnel exposed to hazardous situations such as, but not limited to, assignment in strife-torn or embattled areas, distressed or isolated stated stations, prison camps, mental hospitals, leprosaria, radiation-exposed clinics, laboratories, and workshops, disease-infested areas and areas declared under state of calamity or emergency which pose occupational risks or perils to life.”

The author noted that the Amnesty International has placed Philippines judges among the most at risk of assassination.

Data shows that from 1991 to 2012, 22 judges have been murdered or assassinated, or an average of two judges killed each year, Lagman pointed out.

“These judges also run the risk of being at the receiving end of disgruntled litigants’ ire and, instead of exhausting their legal remedies, opt to put the law in their hands,” the author said.

Lagman recalled that RTC judges, through their organization, the Philippine Judges Association, have initially negotiated for accident and life insurance from insurance providers but the latter imposed prohibitive premiums because their actuaries have classified judges as “high risk” due to the nature of their work.

“Even insurance providers acknowledge the perils to life and limb of their profession,” the author said, adding that judges, being the front-liners of the judiciary who conduct hearings of cases on a daily basis, are accessible and exposed to litigants who may have violent tendencies and criminal intents.

Lagman said that for a more effective and efficient administration of justice, it is imperative for Congress to provide hazard pay to RTC judges through the passage of his bill, now referred to the House Committee on Justice for appropriate action. (PNA)

FFC/PR/JSD

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