COA: SC justices among top paid

Jess Diaz - The Philippine Star

MANILA, Philippines - Justices of the Supreme Court and other members of the judiciary are among the highest paid in the bureaucracy, according to the Commission on Audit (COA) report on salaries, allowances, discretionary funds and other benefits received by government officials in 2014.

Justice Presbitero Velasco was the highest paid member of the judiciary, taking home a total of P6.2 million, while Chief Justice Maria Lourdes Sereno received P4.6 million in total compensation.

This paled in comparison though to what was received by Philippine ambassadors who led last year’s list of highest paid government officials – 55 of them dominating the Top 100.

Philippine Ambassador to China Erlinda Basilio was named the highest paid last year with P16.439 million. Consul General to Saipan Medardo Macaraig ranked 100th with salaries and other benefits amounting to only P5.3 million.

In previous years’ COA report, the DFA officials did not even make it to the Top 10 list of highest paid government officials.

In 2012 and 2013, Government Service Insurance System (GSIS) president and general manager Robert Vergara was ranked number one.

 But in 2014, Basilio overtook him after he received only a total of P12.567 million.

Interestingly, the same report said Vice President Jejomar Binay received only P1.4 million. The COA report does not include President Aquino and members of Congress. Aquino has a basic monthly salary of P120,000 or P1.44 million a year.

On the judiciary, the COA itemized the earnings of the Associate Supreme Court justices as: Lucas Bersamin, P5.9 million; Arturo Brion, P5.8 million; Diosdado Peralta, P5.7 million; Teresita de Castro, P5 million; Antonio Carpio, P4.9 million; Martin Villarama, P4.3 million; Jose Mendoza, P4.3 million; Mariano del Castillo, P4.2 million; Bienvenido Reyes, P4.2 million; Estela Perlas-Bernabe, P4.1 million; Jose Perez, P4.1 million; and Marvic Leonen, P3.7 million.

Former justice Roberto Abad took home P1.5 million, which is his compensation for five months after retiring in May last year.

His successor, Francis Jardeleza, received P4.9 million in gross pay: P4.3 million as solicitor general and P526,000 as SC justice.

The bulk of the justices’ huge compensation is in the form of allowances. Their basic annual pay is P1.1 million, except for Sereno, who gets P100,000 more in basic salary.

Out of the P4.6 million the Chief Justice received last year, P1.6 million was in the form of allowances, while P1.3 million was her discretionary fund.

In the case of Velasco, Peralta and Bersamin, their gross pay included P1.6 million in allowances from the House of Representatives Electoral Tribunal, which Velasco chairs.

Their Senate counterparts – Carpio, Brion and De Castro – were paid P686,992, P626,992 and P626,992, respectively, in allowances by the Senate Electoral Tribunal. Carpio chairs the body.

As members of the Presidential Electoral Tribunal, justices collected a uniform P976,000 each in allowances, except for Sereno, who received P1 million.

 Other SC officers also earned millions. Court Administrator Midas Marquez took home P2.8 million, while his deputy, Raul Villanueva, received P2.5 million. SC spokesman Theodore Te was paid P2.1 million.

Like their colleagues in the high court, justices of the Sandiganbayan, Court of Appeals (CA) and Court of Tax Appeals (CTA) get millions.

Sandigan Presiding Justice Amparo Cabotaje-Tang received P3.2 million, while her CTA counterpart, Ramon del Rosario, took home P2.9 million. CA Presiding Justice Andres Reyes was paid P2.6 million.

The ombudsman, former SC justice Conchita Carpio-Morales, received P2.2 million.

Former Commission on Audit chairman Grace Pulido-Tan had P2.9 million, while former Commission on Elections chairman Sixto Brillantes received P2.7 million.

The COA report was sent to Aquino, Speaker Feliciano Belmonte Jr. and Senate President Franklin Drilon. 

Despite the huge amounts bureaucrats are taking home, there is a plan to further increase the rates of their basic salary.

From a monthly salary of about a P120,000, the President will be getting P1 million a month if the Salary Standardization Law as proposed by Sen. Antonio Trillanes IV is approved by Congress.

Trillanes is pushing for the passage of Senate Bill No. 2671 or the Salary Standardization Law IV, which will adjust the compensation of civilian personnel and the base pay schedule of military and uniformed personnel in the government.

“I’d like this bill to be the legacy of President Aquino to our government employees, including teachers, police and military personnel who have been helping him in attaining the reforms he instituted in the government,” he said.

Under this measure, current base pay schedule will be updated and government structure will be reinvented. Salary grades will be rearranged with Salary Grade 1 being the entry level and Salary 33, the President, being the highest. With Michael Punongbayan, Christina Mendez, Mayen Jaymalin, Jose Rodel Clapano

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