Lower court judges to get pay hike

Ina Reformina, ABS-CBN News

Posted at Sep 19 2018 04:55 AM

MANILA – The Supreme Court (SC) has approved the implementation of salary increase for first level court judges nationwide.

Chief Justice Teresita Leonardo-De Castro approved the recommendation of Court Administrator Jose Midas Marquez to increase the salary of judges in lower courts, pursuant to an en banc resolution passed in June.

From salary grade 26 and 27, judges of municipal trial courts, municipal circuit trial courts, Shari’a circuit courts, and municipal trial court in cities will now be under salary grade 28.

This would mean that judges receiving P102,000 to P114,000 shall be receiving around P127,000, effective July 1, 2018.

The action was on the petition dated August 22, 2017 filed by then Philippine Trial Judges League, Inc. national president Judge Ricky Begino, who has since passed away. 

The increase shall be derived from available savings of the lower courts with issuance of the required Notice of Organization, Staffing and Compensation Action (NOSCA) and release of the corresponding funds by the Department of Budget and Management. 

In a memorandum-request to De Castro dated September 3, 2018, Marquez said his office, through the Financial Management Office, will use savings of the lowers courts deposited in the local bank account to augment the requirement for the salary increase grant.

De Castro also caused the approval by the court en banc of expense allowances for officers and personnel of the Philippine Judicial Academy (PhilJA), the training arm of the judiciary. The allowances were halted when De Castro’s predecessor, ousted Chief Justice Maria Lourdes Sereno, assumed office in 2012.

The expense allowances correspond to work rendered by the PhilJA officers and employees beyond regular work hours.

De Castro told ABS-CBN News the allowances that will be received by PhilJA will not only be prospective but will also cover the past 5 years when the officers and employees were deprived of said expense allowances.

When she assumed the top magistrate post, De Castro vowed to reinstate policies halted by Sereno, which are not only aboveboard but also for the betterment of the plight of court employees, despite her brief 41-day tenure. 

When she reaches the mandatory age of retirement of 70 in the judiciary on October 8th, De Castro shall have served in government for 45 years and 8 months, with 26 of those years spent in the judiciary as Sandiganbayan Associate Justice and subsequently, Presiding Justice; and SC Associate Justice, and Chief Justice. 

De Castro is the first Sandiganbayan Presiding Justice to be appointed Chief Justice, and the first lady Chief Justice of the Philippines due to the voiding of Sereno’s appointment for failure to faithfully file the required annual sworn Statement of Assets, Liabilities, and Net Worth (SALN) during her two-decade teaching stint at the University of the Philippines College of Law, and her failure to submit the mandatory minimal requirement of 10 SALNs when she applied for the top judicial post.