By Mortz C. Ortigoza
DAGUPAN CITY – Employees of the municipal trial courts (MTC) in this city lament the plan of the allies of President Benigno Aquino III in the House of Representatives to abolish the Judicial Development Fund (JDF).
A Processor- 1 and a Clerk- 3, who asked anonymity, said that the measly salary of P15, 000 they get each every month from the Supreme Court would shrink to P13, 000 in case president Aquino becomes successful in rallying his allies that dominate the majority of the solons in Congress in repealing the JDF.
They said 80 percent of the payment of the JDF collected by the Office of the Clerk of Court from litigants on cases involving money went to the employees of the judiciary in the form of benefits that translate to P1,800 to P2,000 per employee. A certain percentage of the court fund is spent on the rehabilitation of court houses.
JDF benefits more than 30,000 employees in the Supreme Court, Court of Appeals, Sandiganbayan, Court of Tax Appeals and the trial courts.
“Paano na ang mga pamilya namin niyan pag wala na ang JDF?” one of them posed.
He said that the president should not center the brunt of his ire on them just because his P177 billion Disbursement Acceleration Program (DAP) was vigorously rejected by the high tribunal in a 13-0 votes.
“We are only here to meet both ends. Huwag naman kaming maliliit ang pag-initan ni Presidente,” he deplored.
After the DAP was rejected last July 1, the president in a pronouncement televised nationally last July 14 expressed his disgust to the Supreme Court. He also hinted that he would do something with the high tribunal – a veiled construed by the courts' employees as a threat like impeachment against the magistrates.
Last July 7, employees of the different branches of the MTC and Regional Trial Court here wore black dress to protest Aquino’s threat to the judiciary and the plans of his allies that control the majority of the solons in Congress to revoke the JDF.
The same kind of protest happened too in San Carlos, City Pangasinan where judicial workers wore black shirts and black bands to mourn the threat by the executive and legislative department in the independence of the court.
The same employees in this city support the call of Association of Court of Appeals Employees (president Amiel de Vera to join the Confederation for Unity, Recognition and Advancement of Government Employees (Courage) in filing a case to stop the imposition of the tax imposed by the Bureau of Internal Revenue on the benefits the court employees get from JDF.
De Vera declared, in the Philippine Daily Inquirer issue dated July 22, that before court workers get their salary and regular benefits the BIR have already withheld the taxes there.
“Now they are targeting the [JDF] benefits,” he said