MANILA, Philippines – After a period of dispute between the Supreme Court and the Department of Budget and Management, Budget Secretary Florencio “Butch” Abad will meet with Chief Justice Maria Lourdes Sereno and other Supreme Court justices on Wednesday, September 5.
Deputy court administrator Raul Villanueva told reporters on Tuesday, September 4, that Abad will meet with Sereno and other justices for the first time to discuss budgetary requirements for the reforms to be implemented in the judiciary.
The meeting comes after Abad’s pronouncement that the DBM is “more than willing to support the Supreme Court’s drive for increased transparency, accountability, and openness in their budgetary activities.”
Abad said on September 3 that the DBM is ready to back the following initiatives in the judiciary:
a. online system where cases are published, as well as updates on them;
b. creation of an internal and integrated Human Resources and payroll management system
He also proposed that the SC develop a system that enables the judiciary to monitor and keep track of allocations and disbursements.
“The judiciary’s fiscal autonomy—while essential in preserving the separation of powers in government—has also posed serious challenges in ensuring transparency and accountability in the court system. A judicial fiscal management and information system may help ensure that, should the High Court decide to undertake such an initiative,” Abad said.
The first meeting between Abad and the justices will also take place after Sereno said that she is confident that the DBM would provide them the assistance they need. “Wala ako ni kaunting takot na ibibigay nila sa atin ang ating hinihinging tulong (I have no doubt that they will extend us the help we’ve been asking for),” she said in the first ceremony at the SC that she attended as chief justice on September 3.
The DBM and the SC used to cross swords over the Court’s use of funds under the term of then Chief Justice Renato Corona.
Corona was removed from his post on May 29, however, for failing to disclose P183 million in peso and dollar bank deposits in his Statement of Assets, Liabilities and Net Worth.
President Benigno Aquino III replaced him with Sereno – also his first appointee at the High Tribunal – on August 24. Sereno promised that under her term (she will stay at the post for 18 years and will only retire in 2030 upon reaching the mandatory retirement age of 70) the SC will be more transparent in its use of funds. – Rappler.com
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