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Judiciary Development Fund not part of pork barrel, SC says


It's no pork and it's all accounted for. 

On Monday, a statement issued by the Office of Chief Justice Maria Lourdes Sereno said the Judiciary Development Fund is a special purpose fund established in 1984 "for the benfit  
of the members and personnel of the judiciary to help ensure and guarantee the independence of the judiciary.”
 
It said that while the Chief Justice is given the power to “administer and allocate the fund and shall have the sole exclusive power and duty to approve the authorized disbursement and expenditures of  the fund,” the chief magistrate is not given any discretion on how the funds will be used.
 
Likewise, the statement said that the judiciary had submitted a report on the uses and balances of the JDF to the House committee on appropriations and the Senate Finance committee during the budget deliberations in September 2013 for the passage of the 2014 budget.

On Wednesday, House justice committee chair Niel Tupas said he wants the JDF to be scrutinized purportedly to "restore balance to the three co-equal branches" and not to retaliate for the high court's ruling that Congress' priority development assistance fund is unconstitutional.   

Reports on the JDF
 
The statement said that JDF reports are also included in the annual report submitted by the Chief Justice in August 2013 to the Office of the President, the Senate President, and the House Speaker.

The annual report is also posted on the judiciary’s website and can be accessed by everyone.
 
“Since the last quarter of 2011, the Supreme Court has also been submitting quarterly financial reports on the JDF to the Department of Budget and Management,” the statement read.
 
The SC belied that there is a P5-billion JDF. It said that 80 percent of the fund is released monthly to the employees as cost of living allowances and 20 percent is used for office equipment and facilities of the courts, as mandated by law.
 
It added as of Nov. 30, 2013, the 20 percent component of the fund has an accumulated balance of P1.435 billion, as certified by the SC Chief of Office o f the Fiscal Management and Budget Office.
 
Of the amount, P732.5 million has been earmarked for the halls of justice of the Courts of Appeals in Cebu and Cagayan de Oro and the consultancy services for the electrical system at the Supreme Court.
 
Another P620.7 million has been certified as available for various capital outlays of the court, including the procurement of computer sets, and the construction and repair of court houses.
 
The SC said the fund intended for office equipment and facilities of the courts is roughly P200 million “barely enough for the Court to source its budget for renovations, repairs and construction of halls of justice and for the various equipment needed for court operations.” — RSJ, GMA News
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