MANILA, Philippines (UPDATED) – Supreme Court (SC) Associate Justice Martin Villarama Jr, who will be leaving his post 3 months ahead of his retirement in 2016, has asked the court en banc to nevertheless grant him full benefits.
The SC justice is supposed to retire on April 14, 2016, when he reaches the mandatory retirement age of 70, but he has opted to retire on January 16.
In a letter to Chief Justice Maria Lourdes Sereno and associate justices, Villarama asked to be accorded longevity pay of 33% of his basic monthly salary instead of just 28%, citing Administrative Circular 58-2003.
Citing the circular, Villarama said the High Court “has allowed earned leave credits to be tacked to the length of judicial service to increase the longevity pay of justices and judges who reached the age of compulsory retirement.”
The magistrate has completed 28 years, 2 months, and 8 days in the judiciary – just 2 months and 28 days short to reach the mandatory retirement age.
Villarama asked the SC en banc to apply the circular in his case, adding that his service as an examiner in the 2009 bar exams must be credited and “tacked in the computation of the longevity pay upon compulsory or optional retirement.”
He noted that the Office of the Administrative Services (OAS) earlier said that the administrative circular “may not be applicable to a justice who is retiring not on compulsory basis.”
“That was the OAS’s position in the case of retired Justice Maria Alicia Austria-Martinez,” he said.
But he added that in a resolution passed in February 2009, the High Tribunal said the circular is applicable pro hac vice (for this case only) to Martinez’s case.
With Villarama’s early retirement, President Benigno Aquino III can appoint another justice for the Supreme Court before his term ends on June 30, 2016.
The Judicial and Bar Council (JBC) has set on November 23 the deadline for the submission of applications or recommendations for the position of associate justice. Supporting documents may be submitted until December 8 to the JBC Secretariat. – Rappler.com