Sereno defends P37-M allotment to NGO-A A +A
Wednesday, August 28, 2013
CHIEF Justice Maria Lourdes Sereno defended on Wednesday her decision to spend P37 million to a non-government organization (NGO) last year.
The NGO was not mentioned in the 2012 Statement of Allotments, Obligations and Balances of the Supreme Court.
In a news conference, Sereno clarified that the Integrated Bar of the Philippines (IBP) received the money for its legal aid for walk-in clients and even for overseas Filipino workers facing cases abroad. The IBP is the mandatory association for lawyers all around the country.
Thousands of Filipinos on Monday trooped to the streets to denounce the alleged misuse of pork barrel funds which went to dubious NGOs linked to fugitive businesswoman Janet Napoles. Sereno skirted the issue.
The judiciary is set to get P18.4 billion or less than a percent of next year's P2.268-trillion proposed national budget even in the face of dilapidated courts, lack of judges and high number of pending cases, which stood at more than 600,000 for lower courts alone in 2012.
The SC turned to the Judiciary Development Fund (JDF), where 80 percent of the collection from legal fees may be used as additional allowances for justices, judges and judiciary personnel.
The remaining 20 percent of the collections is to be used for office equipment and facilities of the courts.
From August 2012 to July 2013, Sereno said P1 billion was raised for the JDF, where P870 million went to court employees nationwide.
She said the JDF has been scrutinized by the Commission on Audit (COA). (Virgil Lopez/Sunnex)