By Charissa Luci-Atienza
The House Committee on Appropriations has approved the funding provision of a bill seeking to provide support for the surviving spouses and children of slain judges, justices and other judiciary officials.
The panel, chaired by Davao City Rep. Karlo Alexei Nograles passed the substitute bill to House Bill 2683, principally authored by Deputy Speaker and Batangas Rep. Raneo Abu.
In April last year, the House Sub-Committee on Judicial Reforms passed the bill or the proposed “Support for the Surviving Spouse and Children of Slain Judiciary Officials Act.
The measure seeks to amend Section 1 of Republic Act No. 910, as amended by Republic Act No. 9946, as amended, otherwise known as “An Act Granting Additional Retirement Survivorship, And Other Benefits to Members of the Judiciary.”
Abu said the bill seeks to embolden judges and justices, especially the young idealistic ones, to dispense justice without fear.
“The risk alongside the job of these judiciary officials should be counterbalanced by providing them with a grant that will encourage them to fully perform their duties and responsibilities. Hence, this bill seeks to support the judiciary by granting benefits to their surviving heirs in case they are killed while dispensing justice,” he said.
He reminded the government to promote judicial reform by supporting all judges and justices decide their cases objectively and fairly despite any risks of injury or death to themselves and their family by guaranteeing support for their spouse and children in the event that they are slain while dispensing justice.
The bill provides that the surviving spouse and the surviving children of the slain Judge or Justice, shall be entitled to receive a monthly pension when a Justice of the Supreme Court, the Court of Appeals, the Sandiganbayan or of the Court of Tax Appeals, or a Judge of the regional trial court, metropolitan trial court, municipal trial court, municipal circuit trial court, shari’a district court, shari’a circuit court or any other court is killed because of his/her work; and when a Justice or Judge is killed intentionally while in service.
The measure provides education scholarship to free tuition to two children of all Justices and Judges in a state university or college.
“If the cause of death of the Judge or Justice is work-related, regardless of the number of years of service in the government or the judiciary, the Judge or Justice shall receive all the full and complete benefits of an Associate Supreme Court Justice as if they were able to full retire. The surviving spouse shall continue to receive such retirement benefits until the surviving spouse’s death or remarriage. Upon the death of the surviving spouse, the benefits he/she receive shall be transferred to the surviving children of the Judge or Justice,” according to the bill said.
The measure also provides that all pension benefits of retired members of the Judiciary or their surviving spouse and children shall be automatically increased whenever there is an increase in the salary of the same position from which he/she retired.
If a surviving spouse and children of a killed Judge or Justice have not received the full lump sum due them within one year from the death of the Judge or Justice, any lump sum still to be granted to the surviving spouse or surviving children of the killed Judge or Justice shall be computed based on the difference between the amounts already received and the 10 year lump sum based on current rates of salaries, benefits, allowances and other grants given to an Associate Justice of the Supreme Court, it said.