MANILA - A technical working group (TWG) created by Chief Justice Maria Lourdes Sereno did not act for 2 years on the applications for survivorship claims of families of late justices, a Supreme Court official said Tuesday.
Spouses and dependent children of deceased judges are entitled to survivorship benefits under a law signed by former President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo in 2010.
In 2015, Sereno and 2 other judges created a TWG under the "Special Committee on Retirement and Civil Service Benefits" to handle applications for survivorship claims, SC Administrator Midas Marquez said before the House justice committee assessing the impeachment complaint against Sereno.
This, he said, came on the heels of an SC opinion that the pension should not apply to survivors of judges who died before the 2010 law was enacted.
"From October 15, 2015 to November 6, 2017, no application was acted upon. More or less, 2 years, 1 month and 5 days po iyun," Marquez said.
Before the TWG was created, the Office of the SC Administrator only took 2 to 3 weeks to process benefit applications, he said.
Marquez added that he wrote to Sereno in January 2017 to expedite 29 applications, but "nothing happened there, there was no reply."
"Apparently, in that committee, the members were not in agreement. I was told that there were disagreements among members of the committee," Marquez said.
The court administrator said the special committee created by Sereno issued a recommendation on July 11, 2017 that contained conflicting memoranda on the pending applications.
"Memorandum A recommends approval of applications, while Memorandum B recommends their denial," Marquez said.
The 94-year-old widow of a justice passed away last October without receiving survivorship benefits allegedly withheld by the Chief Justice, lawyer Larry Gadon, who filed the impeachment complaint against Sereno, alleged in his complaint.
The House justice panel, which is determining if the case has probable cause, decided to subpoena Jocelyn Fabian, the supposed chair of the TWG.