The Supreme Court (SC) is asking senators for an additional P2.8 billion budget for next year after the Department of Budget and Management (DBM) slashed the judiciary’s proposed allocation of P74.18 billion down to only P52.7 billion.
During yesterday’s Senate Finance committee hearing, SC Administrator Raul Villanueva said that of the P2.8-billion budget increase, P1.87 billion would be allocated for the SC, lower courts, and personnel; P567 million for the Court of Appeals (CA), and P124 million for the Sandiganbayan.
Villanueva said the added budget would cover funding for judicial integrity and other personal benefits like adjustment of salaries of their Clerk of Courts.
The amount, he said, would also cover the budget for the conduct of the Bar examinations next year.
Villanueva also told the Senate panel chaired by Sen. Sonny Angara that the Bar exams would remain digitalized and regionalized.
The SC official said next year’s budget will focus on the High Court’s three strategic plans — efficiency, innovation, and access.
Sen. Aquilino Pimentel III and other senators aired their support to the appeal for a budget increase.
Pimentel, also a lawyer, stressed this would amount to compensation for the hard work of the people in the country’s judiciary.
He acknowledged the lawyers, judges, and justices “for addressing conflicts and giving solutions and endings to them.”
Associate Justice Midas Marquez said the SC has committed to put satellite connections in far-flung areas to reach more people needing their services. He said they have also been talking to satellite providers.
Sen. Francis Tolentino confronted the High Court about its earlier press release saying the SC is now approving technology-driven courts. if also stated they will proceed with video conferencing even after the pandemic.
While admitting they still have no budget for the acquisition of budgets that will be used for continuing teleconferencing, Marquez said they already have the computers, which they had procured annually.