Measure filed giving judges hazard pay
Being a courtroom judge in the Philippines is now considered a “high-risk” job, with an average of two judges killed every year, according to a lawmaker proposing to grant these public officials additional compensation.
Under House Bill No. 5804, Quezon City Rep. Winston Castelo has proposed the grant of tax-exempt hazard pay to Regional Trial Court (RTC) judges equivalent to 20 percent of their basic pay.
Citing a recent study by Amnesty International, a global movement campaigning against grave abuse of human rights, Castelo said judges as a sector were now classified as high-risk due to the nature of their work.
“From 1999 to 2012, some 22 judges have been murdered or assassinated in the Philippines, and this translates to two judges being killed annually,” he said in the explanatory note.
“If this pattern continues unabated, it will wreak a serious impact upon the role of the courts in this country and put at peril the criminal justice system,” he said.
Mockery of justice system
A threatened criminal justice system will “severely distort the public purpose of a speedy, fair and expeditious disposition of cases, especially those relative to heinous crime, drug cases and other syndicate crimes,” he said.
“When judges are killed, assassinated or maimed, it makes a mockery of the justice system and places in the hands of disgruntled litigants the option to take the law into their hands,” Castelo said.
“The occupational risk should be counterbalanced by a modest grant or entitlement such as hazard pay that will encourage rather than discourage our judges to face their duties and responsibilities fairly and squarely,” he said.
Castelo said other forms of remuneration should also be considered in the future in order to promote and preserve a truly vibrant criminal justice system.
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