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Court employees protest budget cut

Manila, Philippines – Employees of the Supreme Court (SC), Court of Appeals (CA), Sandiganbayan, Court of Tax Appeals (CTA), and various trial courts all over the country staged yesterday simultaneous protests against the proposed cut in the Judiciary’s 2012 budget from P20 billion to P15.6 billion.

Also protested by wearing black T-shirts and polo shirts during their respective flag-raising ceremonies was the proposal to slash the P15.6 billion further by about P2 billion representing the allocation for unfilled positions in the Judiciary.

Despite an early morning downpour caused by typhoon “Pedring,” the employees stood their ground to dramatize their protests.

Court Administrator and SC spokesman Jose Midas P. Marquez said the protest was done on the initiative of the employees themselves and staged without any disruption in the normal working hours of the Judiciary.

Earlier, the SC had vowed to fight for fiscal autonomy as it strongly opposed the diversion of about P2 billion from its proposed 2012 budget to the Miscellaneous Personnel Benefits Fund (MPBF), a new item in the national budget.

Marquez said the Constitution is clear when it comes to the fiscal autonomy and the non-reduction of the budget of the Judiciary.

He cited Section 3, Article 8 of the Constitution that provides that “the Judiciary shall enjoy fiscal autonomy, and appropriations for the Judiciary may not be reduced by the legislature below the amount appropriated for the previous year, and, after approval, shall be automatically and regularly released.”

He said that aside from fiscal autonomy, the Constitution also provides that the budget of the judiciary cannot be lower than its 2011 budget of P14.3 billion. (Rey G. Panaligan)