IN HIS visit in Bacolod Thursday, Supreme Court Chief Justice Renato Corona held dialogues with local court judges, lawyers, police and jail officers, practicing lawyers and other court employees at the Government Center.
Mayor Evelio R. Leonardia, Vice Mayor Jude Thaddeus Sayson and Councilors Sonya Verdeflor, Archie Baribar, Caesar Distrito, and Carl Lopez welcomed the Chief Justice and his entourage, which includes Court Administrator Jose Midas P. Marquez, Associate Justice Adolfo Ascuna, and Deputy Court Administrator Nimfa Vilches.
Regional Trial Court Executive Judge Ray Alan Drilon and some local judges participated in the dialogue.
Officers of the Negros Occidental Provincial Police Office headed by Police Senior Superintendent Manuel Felix were also present and they raised some concerns regarding the filing of cases.
Corona talked about the Supreme Court's lack of budget. He revealed that even the equipment destroyed by previous Typhoons Pepeng and Ondoy have not been replaced yet.
Corona also narrated that he was elated when he first learned that the Supreme Court has a P400 million budget, thinking that this was for the Court’s operations.
His initial joy was dampened when he was informed that the funds are earmarked for the retirement benefits of Supreme Court employees.
“It’s actually a big headache on my part when it comes to releases because the budget of the Supreme Court is really low. Actually, it’s not for the Supreme Court to release the budget but it is the Department of Budget and Management which is empowered to do so,” he explained.
“If only I can release the funds, I will release it to all of you now. But the truth is that, there is really nothing to release now. Even if there is a Special Allocation Release Order, there is no corresponding fund for it,” Corona told the local court employees, judges and lawyers.
When asked about the funding for the elevator at the Bacolod City Hall of Justice, the Chief Justice channeled the question to Leonardia and Sayson who had previously committed P1 million budget for the project.
Mayor Leonardia replied that the P1 million city counterpart for the project will be up to the City Council. Sayson immediately assured the Chief Justice and Hall of Justice employees that he will work for the passage of the project’s allocation in the City Council.
Corona also said that he and President Benigno Aquino III are cooperating for a common national agenda. (Carla N. Cañet)