The House sub-committee on judicial reforms has approved a proposal to provide support for the surviving spouses and children of judges, justices and other judiciary officials who are killed intentionally while in the line of duty.
The sub-committee chaired by Rep. Vicente Veloso (3rd District, Leyte) approved the proposal contained in House Bill 2683 authored by Deputy Speaker and Batangas Second District Rep. Raneo Abu.
Abu said throughout the years, the country has seen judiciary officials being murdered, assassinated, and brutally killed by criminals in the hopes of obstructing the ends of justice.
“The risk alongside the job of these judiciary officials should be counterbalanced by providing them with a grant that will encourage them to fully perform their duties and responsibilities. Hence, this bill seeks to support the judiciary by granting benefits to their surviving heirs in case they are killed while dispensing justice,” said Abu.
Abu further said his bill will embolden judges and justices, especially the young idealistic judges and justices, to dispense justice without fear, knowing that the government has their backing and will support them and their families, as they uphold the rule of law.
During the hearing, Supreme Court (SC) Court Administrator Jose Midas Marquez endorsed the proposal and stated that most of the victims were killed due to their decisions involving drug-related offenses.
House Bill 2683, or the proposed “Support for the Surviving Spouse and Children of Slain Judiciary Officials Act,” declares it is the State policy to promote judicial reform by supporting all judges and justices decide their cases objectively and fairly despite any risks of injury or death to themselves and their family by guaranteeing support for their spouse and children in the event that they are slain while dispensing Justice.
The bill seeks to amend Section 1 of Republic Act No. 910, as amended by Republic Act No. 9946, as amended, otherwise known as “An Act Granting Additional Retirement Survivorship, And Other Benefits to Members of the Judiciary, Amending For the Purpose Republic Act No. 910, As Amended, Providing Funds Therefor And For Other Purposes.” The amendment provides the following:
“When a Justice of the Supreme Court, the Court of Appeals, the Sandiganbayan or of the Court of Tax Appeals, or a Judge of the regional trial court, metropolitan trial court, municipal trial court, municipal circuit trial court, shari’a district court, shari’a circuit court or any other court hereafter established is killed because of his/her work; when a Justice or Judge is killed intentionally while in service, the presumption is that the death is work-related, regardless of the number of years served in government or the judiciary, the surviving spouse and the surviving children of the slain Judge or Justice, shall be entitled to receive a monthly pension during the residue of his/her natural life in the manner hereinafter. Provided, the salary plus the highest monthly aggregate of transportation, representation and other allowances such as personal economic relief allowance (PERA) and additional compensation allowance which is received by an Associate Justice of the Supreme Court and the non-wage benefit in the form of education scholarship to two children of all Justices and Judges to free tuition fee in a state university or college.
The bill also amends Section 3 of RA 910, as amended by RA 9946, to include the following:
“Provided even further, that if the Judge or Justice is killed due to his/her work, the Judge or Justice or their surviving spouse and children, shall receive all the benefits provided above which are applicable plus a gratuity equivalent to 10 years salary, lump sum to be computed based on all the salaries, benefits and the like, given to an Associate Justice of the Supreme Court.”
“If the cause of death of the Judge or Justice is work-related, regardless of the number of years of service in the government or the judiciary, the Judge or Justice shall receive all the full and complete benefits of an Associate Supreme Court Justice as if they were able to fully retire. The surviving spouse shall continue to receive such retirement benefits until the surviving spouse’s death or remarriage. Upon the death of the surviving spouse, the benefits he/she receive shall be transferred to the surviving children of the Judge or Justice.”
Lastly, the bill amends Section 3-A and Section 3-B of RA 910, as amended by RA 9946 to include the following:
“SEC. 3-A. All pension benefits of retired members of the Judiciary or their surviving spouse and children shall be automatically increased whenever there is an increase in the salary of the same position from which he/she retired or is granted benefits. If a surviving spouse and children of a killed Judge or Justice have not received the full lump sum due them within one year from the death of the Judge or Justice, any lump sum still to be granted to the surviving spouse or surviving children of the killed Judge or Justice shall be computed based on the difference between the amounts already received and the 10 year lump sum based on current rates of salaries, benefits, allowances and other grants given to an Associate Justice of the Supreme Court.”
“SEC. 3-B. The benefits under this Act shall be granted to all those who have retired or were killed due to their work prior to the effectivity of this Act: Provided, that the benefits shall be applicable only to members of the Judiciary or their surviving spouse and children: Provided, further, “That the benefits to be granted shall be prospective.’’