Palace to SC: We don't have to fight over budget-A A +A
Friday, September 7, 2012
MALACANANG said Thursday that the purpose of the meeting between Budget Secretary Florencio Abad and Chief Justice Maria Lourdes Sereno and other Supreme Court (SC) justices was to show that the executive and judiciary should not fight over budget issues.
Abad on Wednesday went to the SC to meet with high court magistrates regarding the judiciary's budget.
"Primarily, it's about the budget of the judiciary and, secondly, the message is we can work together insofar as the budget is concerned," Presidential spokesperson Edwin Lacierda said when asked about the purpose of the meeting.
"We don't have to fight tooth and nail over the budget. If it can be discussed sitting down, (then it's) all the better than putting out word in (the) media before sitting down together," he added.
Lacierda said the meeting of Abad and the justices was a "positive" step towards resolving issues of the budget of the judiciary.
He likewise said that it is a way for the Executive to understand clearer how the budget process of the judiciary works.
Lacierda noted that the meeting was limited to budget discussion only dispelling speculations on Executive's apparent encroachment on the independence of the judiciary. "We respect the fiscal autonomy of the judiciary," he said.
Abad is the first budget secretary to meet with the members of the judiciary at the Supreme Court.
The Executive and the judiciary have been arguing about the budget since last year after the Palace has imposed conditions on high court's expenditures.
The Palace likewise required the SC to do a quarterly reporting of its spending.
The Department of Budget and Management (DBM) also slashed the special allowance for justices and judges for this year and orders that billions of court fees collected by the judiciary to be turned over to the national treasury. The high court has appealed the move of the DBM.
Lacierda said while Sereno is an appointee of President Benigno Aquino III, asking of additional budget for the judiciary will not be easy.
"That will be, again, subject to considerations," he said.
"You must remember how the budgetary process starts is every Cabinet department submits a budget, including Supreme Court, and the DBM goes through all the budgets of all departments, all agencies, and decides for a number of reasons to cut down on the budget that was proposed by them," he further said.
Malacanang, meanwhile, distanced itself on the apparent cold treatment of senior justices towards Sereno.
Lacierda said the Palace will let the justices resolve issues among themselves.
Lacierda, on other hand, defended Sereno on issues regarding the result of her psychiatric test.
"First of all if she is not mentally fit, she will not be recommended by the JBC. Apparently, she made the grade,” said Lacierda.
An SC justice reportedly called on the Judicial and Bar Council to make public the results of the controversial psychiatric tests of Sereno.
"The Supreme Court made the rules of the JBC. They're closer to the Supreme Court rather than the executive branch. So it's up to them if they want—if the Supreme Court would decide to and bank on the decision to release the psychiatric record." (Jill Beltran/Sunnex)