MANILA, Philippines—Chief Justice Maria Lourdes Sereno defended the release of P37-million fund to non-government organization in 2012 based on the high court’s 2012 statement of allotments, obligations and balances.
She said the P37-million went to the Integrated Bar of the Philippines, a national organization of lawyers. The IBP was established as an official organization for the legal profession by Republic Act 6397.
“The P37 million went to the IBP’s legal aid. IBP is a legitimate organization. Its legal aid project is being conducted nationwide,” she said during the Meet the Press forum Wednesday.
The Executive and Legislative branches of government is currently under fire for the P10 billion pork barrel scam where government funds allegedly went to questionable NGOs of Janet Lim-Napoles.
Sereno said although she cannot provide for even an estimate of how widespread corruption is in the judiciary, she said they are exerting efforts to be transparent.
From July 2012 to July 2013, the Judiciary’s Development Fund has reached P1-billion where P870 million was distributed to employees of the judiciary nationwide.
“This [amount] is already out of our account,” Sereno said.
The JDF was established under Presidential Decree 1949 by then President Ferdinand Marcos for the benefit of the members and personnel of the Judiciary.
The fund, derived from legal fees being collected pursuant to the Rules set by the high court, is being used to augment the allowances of the members and personnel of the Judiciary and to finance the maintenance and repair of court offices.
The JDF has been the source of bickering between the three branches of government where both the legislative and executive branches are questioning the disbursements of JDF and the fact that the amount accruing to the fund will be deposited to a government depository bank or private bank instead of the Bureau of Treasury.
Still, Sereno said they cannot escape the Commission on Audit.
“We also want the public to be assured that the Judiciary has no reason to withhold it,” she said.
The Judiciary is getting less than 1 percent of the national budget and the JDF is being used to support the other needs of the judiciary specifically its personnel.
Originally posted at 6:01 p.m.