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DBM to release P104 M for salary difference of judges, justices

MANILA, Philippines - Budget Secretary Florencio Abad gave assurance yesterday that the executive department will be releasing P104 million to cover the deficiency in the increased salaries of judges and justices.

The Department of Budget and Management (DBM) chief, however, rectified misimpressions that only 400 judges will benefit from such, insisting that the amount will “cover the salary differentials of 1,465 judges.”

“We are committed to pursuing equity in the pay of justices, judges and judiciary officials, by funding any deficiency between their basic monthly salary and salary rates under the Salary Standardization Law III,” Abad said in a statement.

The basic monthly salary of judges and justices is based on the Special Allowances for the Judiciary (SAJ), the original base pay prior to the enactment of the SAJ Law (Republic Act 9227) in 2003.

The Supreme Court (SC), in a June 7 resolution, directed that the 10 percent salary increase under two executive orders – 611 in 2007 and 719 in 2009 – along with the first two tranches of SSL-III in 2009-2010, be sourced from the SAJ Fund under the judiciary.

The resolution, in effect, set aside its resolution on May 2010 that directs the DBM to issue a Special Allotment Release Order (SARO) and notice of cash allocation (NCA) to cover for the funding requirements of the salary increases authorized in 2007 to 2010.

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The high tribunal also ordered the DBM to immediately fund the deficiency in the salary increase under the second and third tranches of the SSL-III, and secure the SARO and corresponding NCA for future salary increase under the fourth tranche of SSL-III.

Meanwhile, Abad said the DBM is studying the component of the SC resolution which states that the SAJ component of the retirement gratuity, terminal leave benefits and pensions of retired justices and judges to continue shall be sourced from the Pension and Gratuity Fund (PGF).

He noted that the provisions of the 2011 General Appropriations Act made it clear that the PGF cannot be used for the payment of any increase in retirement benefits as a result of special allowances.

Also yesterday, Abad expressed appreciation for the recent SC ruling on the SAJ Funds for magistrates, as it “recognizes the memorandum of agreement between the DBM and four judges’ associations.”

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