By Rey Panaligan
Chief Justice Teresita J. Leonardo de Castro said on Thursday the Supreme Court (SC) has launched, on a pilot test in Valenzuela City, the payment of legal fees in court cases, like filing fees, directly to the Land Bank of the Philippines (LBP).
Thereafter, De Castro said the project will be implemented nationwide to cover all courts and with the participation of other banks and online payment outlets.
The pilot test in Valenzuela means that litigants who are filing cases in courts within the city can now pay the fees directly to LBP branches. They would merely attach the deposit slips or receipts in their pleadings for filing with the courts.
Also, De Castro with the approval of the SC as a full court authorized the increase in the payment of transcript of stenographic notes from P10 to P20 per page.
Stenographic notes are needed by lawyers and litigants in the preparation of succeeding pleadings in their court cases.
The increase would benefit directly court stenographers nationwide. The P10 per page was set in the year 2000.
Exempted from the payment of the transcript of stenographic notes are indigent litigants and those represented by the Public Attorneys Office of the Department of Justice.
The twin moves adopted by the SC were recommended by Court Administrator Jose Midas P. Marquez.
Marquez explained that of the amount collected from the transcript of stenographic notes, one-third of the amount goes to the Judiciary Development Fund while the rest goes to the concerned court stenographer.
Last month, Chief Justice De Castro ordered the implementation of salary increases, retroactive to July 1, for judges in the first level courts — municipal trial courts, municipal circuit trial courts, municipal trial courts in cities and Shari’a circuit courts.
The salary increase was the result of the upgrading of the judges’ positions from Grades 26 and 27 to Grade 28.
With the upgrading of positions, the judges’ salaries would be increased from the current P102,000 to P114,000 and to as much as P127,000 per month.
SC lawyers said the increase in judges’ salaries would go a long way in enhancing the efficiency of courts in the dispensation of justice and would be one of Chief Justice De Castro’s legacy in her brief stint as head of the judiciary.