Hazard pay for court officials in danger zones pushed
Marvin Sy (The Philippine Star) - March 19, 2017 - 12:00am

MANILA, Philippines - Sen. Leila de Lima is pushing for the grant of hazard pay for court officials assigned in high-risk areas.

Senate Bill 1347, filed by De Lima, calls for the grant of hazard pay equivalent to 15 percent of the monthly salary of officials in “risk-adjacent-courts” declared by the Supreme Court due to their geographical location or proximity to prolonged armed conflicts or disaster-prone areas, whether first or second level courts.

First level courts are metropolitan and municipal trial courts while second-level courts are regional trial courts and Shari’a district courts.

Apart from judges, the proposal will benefit clerks of court, public prosecutors and lawyers.

“We need to enact an incentive system that is commensurate to the dangers faced by our public officials. This will encourage our brave countrymen to take up posts in otherwise less than ideal public offices,” De Lima said.

The bill also calls for the grant of an additional hazard pay of 10 percent of their basic monthly salary to be given to covered officials in second level courts that handle criminal cases.

All additional hazard pay proposed in the measure will be exempted from tax.

“Add to this is the criminality and terrorism that seek to sow fear against those that stand in their way, including our court officials who are tasked with administering justice. Officials in second level courts are further exposed to risks from criminal elements being the courts assigned to hear heinous crimes and cases with higher stakes,” De Lima, currently detained at the Philippine National Police Custodial Center in Camp Crame, said.

A former justice secretary, De Lima said it is the responsibility of government to ensure that the country’s courts continue to carry out their functions despite the risks and dangers brought about by armed conflict or natural calamities.

“Our country is not a stranger to risks. Natural disasters batter our country with increasing frequency, while armed conflicts occasionally erupt. We should strive to keep the courts operating especially in these areas that need governance most,” De Lima said.

“For our democracy to function, we must instill upon our citizens’ faith in our court system. Our government must endeavor to keep our courts functioning in spite of the forces that undermine them,” she added. 

 

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