FOLLOWING the National Heroes’ Day message of President Rodrigo “Rody” Duterte of looking after the welfare of the State’s partners in its war against drugs and criminalities, Deputy Speaker and Batangas Rep. Raneo Abu said the state should also address the serious challenges to the nation’s judicial system, particularly the daily risks that dispensers of justice face.
“Dispensing justice is as risky, in some cases fatally risky, as the search for justice itself by victims of injustice,” Deputy Speaker Abu pointed out.
This concern prompted the Batangas lawmaker to initiate HB 2683 to be known as the “Support for the Surviving Spouse and Children of Slain Judiciary Officials Act,” filed on August 8, 2016.
HB 2683 is entitled “An Act providing support for the surviving spouse and children of slain Judges, Justices and other Judiciary officials, and for other purposes.”
“The country, in recent years, has experienced judiciary officials being murdered, assassinated, and brutally killed by criminals in hopes of obstructing the ends of justice,” Abu lamented.
He cited a report by Amnesty International showing that from 1999 to 2012, some twenty two judges have been murdered or assassinated in the Philippines, which translates to two judges being killed each year.
Abu added that Section 2 of R.A. 9946, as amended, states that “when a justice or judge is killed intentionally while in service, the presumption is that the death is work-related.”
Furthermore, he explained that the daily job-related risks that judiciary officials face 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 surviving heirs in case they are killed while dispensing justice.
“This proposed amendment to R.A. 910, as amended by R.A. 9946, as amended, will embolden our judges and justices, especially the young idealistic judges and justices, to dispense justice without fear knowing that the government has their back covered and will support them and their families, as they uphold the rule of law,” Rep. Abu stressed.
HB 2683, among other salient provisions, provides: “Section. 3 -- A. 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 or is granted benefits. If a surviving spouse and children of a killed Judge or Justice have not received the full lump sum due them within one (1) 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 ten-year lump sum based on current rates of salaries, benefits, allowances and other grants given to an Associate Justice of the Supreme Court.”
It is vital to note that the bill mandates that the benefits shall be granted to all those who have retired or were killed due to his/her work “prior to the effectivity of the proposed Act.” Initial funding for the measure shall be charged against the current year’s saving of the Judiciary, and thereafter, such sums necessary shall be included in the General Appropriations Act.