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Sereno not liable for widow’s delayed pension – SC spokesman

MANILA, Philippines — Chief Justice Maria Lourdes Sereno cannot be held liable for the delayed release of the pension of 94-year-old Dolores Colayco, widow of a Court of Appeals justice who recently passed away without receiving her pension, Supreme Court spokesman Theodore Te has said.

In a letter to The STAR, Te stressed that Sereno’s office did not sit on Colayco’s application for survivorship benefits or even caused the delay for approval – contrary to the allegation of lawyer Lorenzo Gadon, complainant in the impeachment case against the SC chief.

The SC spokesman said the delay of more than one year in the release of Colayco’s pension was due to the need for collegial approval of the high court.

“Considering the possibility of conflicting resolutions on the application of survivorship benefits, the SC (full court) had to arrive at a policy decision,” he explained.

According to Te, Colayco’s late husband, CA Justice Jose Colayco compulsorily retired from the judiciary on Dec. 17, 1982, at age 70. He died on May 26, 1992.

At the time of his death, Republic Act 910 provided that upon the death of a retired justice, no further benefits were due the spouse. RA 9946 was enacted in 2010, substantially amending RA 910.

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Te confirmed that Colayco’s application for survivorship benefits was received by the SC from the CA in August 2016.

He said the SC arrived at a policy decision only last Sept. 19.

In its resolution, the SC resolved, among others, to grant the application for survivorship pension benefits of the legitimate spouses of justices and judges who retired prior to RA 9946.

Thus, the application of Mrs. Colayco was approved only last Oct. 10.

Te also stressed that contrary to earlier report, the benefits that the widow was entitled to receive will accrue to her heirs.

When sought for reaction, Gadon slammed Te for blaming the colleagues of Sereno in the high court for the delayed release of Colayco’s pension.

“Why is he issuing a statement putting the full court in a bad light? Is that part of his job as spokesman of the court?” Gadon asked.  

Gadon alleged that Colayco’s application was stalled in Sereno’s office since last January and was forwarded to the full court only last month.   

Sereno’s alleged inaction on the applications for survivorship benefits of spouses of deceased justices and judges was among the grounds cited in Gadon’s impeachment complaint that was found sufficient in form and substance by the House committee on justice.

Gadon accused the Chief Justice of betrayal of public trust by sitting on the applications for about a year.

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