Solon urges Senate to pass bill standardizing judiciary retirement benefits
MANILA, Philippines — Davao City Rep. Paolo Duterte urged the Senate on Wednesday to pass a bill equivalent to House Bill No. 8392, which would standardize the retirement benefits for both justices and judges.
“Fairness and the equal application of the law are among the tenets that the judiciary is mandated to uphold and protect. Ironically, through no fault of their own, these tenets are not followed by the judiciary when it comes to providing retirement benefits to certain officials simply because of the lack of a law that standardizes the grant of such benefits,” Romualdez said in a statement issued on Wednesday.
HB No. 8392 — aimed at amending Republic Act No. 910, as amended by Republic Act No. 9946 — was already approved by the House of Representatives on its third and final reading last Aug. 9. However, Duterte noted that the counterpart measure in the Senate has been languishing at the committee level.
“Thus, judicial officials with the judicial rank, salary, and privileges as those of justices and judges are left with no retirement benefits despite their long years of dedicated service,” he said.
According to Duterte, court administrators who hold the same judicial rank, salary, and privileges as a justice enjoy the same salary and privileges, but on their retirement, the Government Service Insurance System (GSIS) excludes them from availing of retirement benefits.
Duterte said the Supreme Court has tried to correct the issue by giving the same ranks and the same retirement benefits, but the GSIS and the Department of Budget and Management (DBM) did not implement it due to the limits set by Republic Act No. 9946 — which means passing and enacting a new law would be necessary.
“The enactment of a new law through the passage of the reconciled version of House Bill 8392 and the Senate’s counterpart measure is the solution to this gross violation of the equal protection clause enshrined in our Constitution,” Duterte said.
Under the bill, judges in the Sandiganbayan and the Court of Tax Appeals would receive the same benefits as justices of the Supreme Court and the Court of Appeals — provided that they have the same judicial rank, salary, and privileges.
This means judges in the regional trial courts, metropolitan trial courts, municipal circuit trial courts, and Shari’a district and municipal courts in Mindanao, would have the same benefits.
This is not the first time however that a House member has urged the Senate to act on bills that already passed in the lower chamber. Last May, Albay Rep. Joey Salceda asked the Senate to pass a bill that would extend the estate tax amnesty to allow more Filipinos to benefit from it.
Days after, Salceda asked the Senate again to prioritize proposals to create the country’s version of the Center for Disease Control (CDC) — as a lot of stakeholders are waiting for the bill’s enactment.