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Marquez: Creation of retirement panels slowed resolutions on benefits

Marquez said the creation of the Special Committee on Retirement and Civil Service Benefits and technical working groups (legal and screening of applications) slowed down resolutions on retirement benefits. Miguel de Guzman

MANILA, Philippines — The Supreme Court did not act on any application for retirement benefits in a span of two years, Court Administrator Midas Marquez said during the resumption of the impeachment proceeding against Chief Justice Maria Lourdes Sereno.

Marquez testified before the House Justice committee — now called the impeachment committee — on the accusations that Sereno delayed the release of retirement benefits for justices and judges.  

Marquez said the creation of a Special Committee on Retirement and Civil Service Benefits and technical working groups (legal and screening of applications) slowed down resolutions on retirement benefits.

Sereno approved the creation of the two TWGs and the special committee.

“No application was acted upon two years, one month and five days,” Marquez said.

He noted that prior to the creation of the retirement committee and the TWGs, court resolutions on retirement benefits were out within two to three weeks.

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The Office of Court Administrator processed retirement applications prior to the creation of the retirement committee and the organization of the TWGs. It approved 271 petitions.

“It is my firm belief that the resolution of retirement benefits should be prioritized and should not suffer any delay at all as many of the applicants have earned these over a period of long years. They are very old and they need all the help we can extend,” Marquez.

The surviving spouses receive retirement benefits through Republic Act 9946, which took effect on February 11, 2010.

Sereno liable for widow’s delayed pension?

In his impeachment complaint, lawyer Larry Gadon alleged that Sereno herself delayed the release of survivorship benefits to Dolores Colayco, the widow of the late Court of Appeals Justice Jose Colayco.

Mrs. Colayco filed an application for her benefits before the SC in August 2016.

She died on October 3, seven days prior to the approval of her benefits.

In October, SC spokesperson Theodore Te said the chief magistrate cannot be held liable for the delayed release of Mrs. Colayco’s pension.

Te 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.

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.

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

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