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AUG 13, 2016

NR # 4291B

Solon wants LGUs prohibited from providing allowances


to prosecutors & judges
A Mindanao lawmaker is seeking to prohibit all local government units (LGUs)
from funding the allowances and benefits of members and personnel of the Judiciary and
the National Prosecution Service assigned in their areas to protect and preserve judicial
independence and integrity.
Rep. Erlpe John M. Amante (2nd District, Agusan del Norte) said his proposal is not
meant to discredit the integrity, impartiality and moral character of judges and prosecutors
particularly those receiving allowances from the LGUs, nor maliciously accuse or assume
that they are partial and outrageously immoral. The proposal is intended to create a
mechanism that will ensure judicial independence of judges and prosecutors.
Amante said the concept of judicial independence lies on the integrity, morality,
incorruptibility and impartiality of the members of the judiciary and the prosecution
service.
However, the lawmaker said with the enactment of Republic Act No. 7160,
otherwise known as the Local Government Code of 1991, LGUs were given authority to
allocate from their local government funds additional allowances and other benefits to
judges and prosecutors stationed in their areas.
This mechanism tends to undermine the independence of the judiciary and raises
some issues on morality. Judges and prosecutors, as dispenser of justice, must at all times
isolate themselves from the alluring financial temptation, said Amante.
Amantes proposal is embodied in House Bill 1397 or the proposed Enhanced
Judicial Independence Act of 2015, now pending at the House Committee on
Appropriations chaired by Rep. Karlo Alexei B. Nograles (1st District, Davao City).
The bill declares it is the State policy to ensure an effective justice system
comprised of independent-minded judges and prosecutors who are consciously shielding
themselves from the financial temptation being offered to them by the LGUs in the form
of special allowances and other benefits. Towards this end, the belief of intimidation and
pressure whenever a benefactor LGU is a party to case will be diminished.
The bill prohibits all LGUs from allocating funds from their annual budget, Internal
Revenue Allotment (IRA) and all other local government funds for the allowances and
benefits of members and personnel of the Judiciary and the National Prosecution Service
stationed or assigned in their respective LGUs.

It declares it unlawful and illegal for members and personnel of the Judiciary and
the National Prosecution Service to receive all forms of additional compensation,
allowances, honoraria, bonuses and other emoluments from any LGU, except those
directly paid by the Judiciary and the Department of Justice (DOJ), respectively, out of its
annual budget and appropriations.
The bill amends Section 447 (a) (xi) of RA 7160 on Powers, Duties, Functions and
Compensation of the Sangguniang Bayan so that judges and prosecutors are excluded
from among the beneficiaries of additional benefits and allowances provided by the
municipal government.
Moreover, the bill amends Section 458 (a) (1) (xi) of RA 7160 on the Powers,
Duties, Functions and Compensation of the Sangguniang Panlungsod so that judges and
prosecutors are excluded from among the beneficiaries of additional benefits and
allowances provided by the city government.
Lastly, it amends Section 468 (a) (1) (xi) of RA 7160 on the Powers, Duties,
Functions and Compensation of the Sangguniang Panlalawigan so that judges and
prosecutors are excluded from among the beneficiaries of additional benefits and
allowances provided by the provincial government.
Any member or personnel of the Judiciary and the National Prosecution Service
found violating the provisions of the Act shall, upon conviction, face imprisonment of six
months and one day to 12 years and perpetual disqualification from public office, and
refund all additional compensation, allowances, honoraria, bonuses and other emoluments
it received from LGUs.
Meanwhile, any LGU officer who causes the release of the allowances and other
benefits to members and personnel of the Judiciary and the National Prosecution Service
shall, upon conviction, be imprisoned for six months and one day to 12 years, and be
perpetually disqualified from public office.
The Interior and Local Government Secretary shall issue such rules and regulations
deemed necessary to implement the Act. (30) rbb