MANILA - The dean of the San Beda College Graduate School of Law on Friday defended the Supreme Court from allegations that it also committed cross-border transfer of funds when it sought to augment funds for construction of the Manila Hall of Justice.
Speaking to radio DZMM, Fr. Ranhilio Aquino said President Aquino's accusation that the SC also juggled funds is unfair to the judiciary and misrepresents the nature of the judiciary development fund (JDF).
Aquino explained the JDF is not taxpayers' money but funds sourced from the filing fees of litigants. Eighty percent of the fund goes to benefits and allowances of judges and court personnel while the remaining 20 percent goes to facilities.
"The basic facility of the judiciary is the courthouse. Anong problema dun?" he asked.
The law dean explained the budget for the construction of courthouses is placed under the Department of Justice, which is under the executive branch, because it is against the law to lessen the budget of the judiciary.
"Example, magpapatayo ka ng hall of justice sa Manila for P500 million. Now if you put that money in the budget of the judiciary, even if the hall of justice is finished, you still need to put the P500 million there because you cannot diminish the budget of the judiciary. This is the reason why the budget was put in the DOJ but the truth is it is the concern of the judiciary because it is a courthouse," he said.
President Aquino earlier said the SC also practiced cross-border fund transfers to justify his own administration's disbursement acceleration program.
He said that in July 2012, the Supreme Court allotted its savings of P1.865 billion to augment funds for construction of the Manila Hall of Justice, which is under the Department of Justice.
He added that the SC also later requested the Department of Budget and Management (DBM) to transfer P100 million in funds under the DOJ's Justice Infrastructure Program intended for the Manila Hall of Justice for construction of the Malabon Hall of Justice.
Fr. Aquino, however, said there was no cross-border of funds because the judiciary will still be the primary beneficiary of the new courthouses.
"Yung sinasabi nilang transfer of funds unang-una hindi pa napatayo ang Manila Hall of Justice. Ni plano wala pa. Ang nakalap kong impormasyon ay ganito, ang nangyari ay ganito - ang sinabi ng SC sa [Department of Budget and Management] wag na gamitin ang pndo para sa Manila Hall of justice because we have JDF savings. Ang nakalaan dapat sa Hall of Justice gamitin na lang sa Malabon," he said.
"Where is the cross border transfer of funds? The people should know the explanation because the judiciary is being maligned," he added.