By MARK MERUEÑAS
Following the ouster of Chief Justice Renato Corona, the Supreme Court has decided to give the public access to its financial reports on SC special funds, as well as the Commission on Audit report on the high court.
Acting public information office chief Gleoresty Guerra said the directive to make the records public came from Acting Chief Justice Antonio Carpio who is temporarily taking over Corona’s vacated post while the Judicial and Bar Council looks for a replacement.
Among the documents being made public through the SC website are the latest financial reports on the Judiciary Development Fund (JDF) and the Special Allowance for the Judiciary (SAJ), covering the period January 1 to March 31, 2012, as well as the latest 2010 annual COA report on the SC.
On Monday, Carpio acknowledged that the release of the financial reports was borne out of the public’s clamor for more transparency in the wake of the Corona impeachment trial.
“The impeachment trial taught us lessons and I think we are learning. We have decided to make public our financial reports… The court in effect has reacted to these charges for lack of transparency,” Carpio said during the book launch of the “History of the Supreme Court” in Manila.
The JDF – created through Presidential Decree 1949 – was put up to augment the allowances of the members and personnel of the judiciary and to finance the acquisition, maintenance and repair of office equipment and facilities.
At least 80 percent of the JDF shall be used for cost-of-living allowances, while the remaining 20 percent shall be used for office equipment and facilities of the courts.
Meanwhile, the SAJ – created under Republic Act 9227 – gives special allowances to justices, judges, and all other positions in the judiciary with the equivalent rank of justices of the Court of Appeals and judges of the Regional Trial Court. The special funds is equal to 100 percent of their respective basic monthly salary specified for their salary grades.
Section 3 of the law provides that any surplus may be granted to other court personnel.
The financial records can be viewed by clicking the heading “Public Information” at the upper right corner of the SC website, then the dropdown “Reports on Special Funds.”
The 2010 annual COA report, meanwhile, can be viewed by clicking on the dropdown “Annual Reports.”
The release of the financial reports came a week after the SC en banc issued a resolution dated May 30, 2012, approving in principle the release of the full 2011 Statement of Assets, Liabilities and Net Worth of all justices and judges of the judiciary, subject to the guidelines to be taken up on Wednesday.
On May 29, Corona was convicted by the Senate impeachment court for his failure to declare almost P200 million deposited in several dollar and peso accounts. — RSJ/HS, GMA News