Tupas questions use of JDF for motorcycles, guns, loans
MANILA, Philippines—Iloilo Representative Niel Tupas Jr. called out red flags in the usage of the Judiciary Development Fund (JDF), saying funds from the JDF were spent as loans for motorcycles, handguns and computers for qualified court employees.
During his sponsorship speech on Tuesday for his bill abolishing the JDF and creating a new fund, Tupas cited a Commission on Audit report as saying in 2012, at least P10.1 million in JDF were used as loans for motorcycles, computers and handguns.
In a presentation, Tupas said the breakdown is: P6.033 million loans for motorcycles; P2.8 million for computers, P1.197 million for handguns, and P30,562 for other loans.
He said the Presidential Decree (PD) 1949 which created the JDF does not authorize the use of the funds for loans for court employees.
“Nagtataka ako bakit ito ginamit para pampautang para sa mga baril at motor. Nowhere in the PD 1949 na pwede ito (I’m confused why it was used as loans for guns and motorcycles. Nowhere in the PD 1949 states that this is allowed),” Tupas said during Tuesday’s hearing that was snubbed by Chief Justice Maria Lourdes Sereno.
“Ilan ang walang korte, o Hall of Justice? Bakit ito pinapautang at hindi dito napunta? (How many districts do not even have a court or a Hall of Justice? Why do they let the JDF be used as loans instead of using it for the construction of courts?)” added Tupas, who chairs the justice committee.
He also said that in 2012, at least P300 million in JDF were stashed in Land Bank of the Philippines as high yield savings.
“Bakit in-invest itong P300 million? (Why did they invest this P300 million?)” Tupas asked
Meanwhile, in 2013, the court gave P3.044 billion in savings from unfilled positions as allowances and bonuses to court employees, Tupas said.
These bonuses are employees development assistance, medical benefits, economic assistance, Yuletide assistance, rice subsidy allowance, anniversary bonus, loyalty award benefits and other personnel benefits, Tupas said.
Tupas said he wanted Sereno to attend the House hearing to shed light on these red flags.
Sereno was a no-show in Tuesday’s hearing, citing the court’s “fiscal autonomy” and “judicial independence.”
In a letter to the committee, Sereno said the “timing and context in which a Committee of the House is proposing to inquire into the JDF as indicated in its letter, is that they leave much to be desired, and at this point, do not seem to be fully cognizant of the kind of healthy relationship that should exist between, on the one hand, the House of Representatives and on the other, the Supreme Court.”
The lower chamber is conducting a hearing over the two bills filed about JDF long after the Supreme Court scrapped Congress’ Priority Development Assistance Funds (PDAF) as unconstitutional. But lawmakers denied retaliating to the Supreme Court.
The JDF, long seen as the court’s “pork barrel” funds,” is sourced from the funds collected by courts nationwide from docket and other court fees.
Presidential Decree 1949, dated July 18, 1984, created the JDF “in order to preserve and enhance the independence of the judiciary at all times and safeguard the integrity of its members,” being the lone apolitical branch of government.
Under PD 1949, 80-percent of the JDF shall be used to augment the allowances of justices, judges, and court personnel; the remaining 20-percent for office equipment and facilities.
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