Luring ?the Best and the Brightest? to the judiciary.(Opinion &Amp; Editorial)

Manila Bulletin, May 23, 2002 | Go to article overview

Luring ?the Best and the Brightest? to the judiciary.(Opinion &Amp; Editorial)


A FORMER Malaca?ang regional development official stirred the proverbial hornet's nest which media supported when he said the administration of justice in Region 8 is hampered because of the lack of judges in many towns and cities.

He was right. All over the country, one persistent problem of the judiciary is filling up hundreds of vacancies in different trial courts, including Shiar'a courts.

One might be at a loss at the apparent irony: with thousands of lawyers around why the dearth of judges and prosecutors, as well as qualified court personnel?

There is only one logical reason. And that is the relatively low pay and skimpy benefits of those who serve in the judiciary.

This compensation proposition is unattractive to lawyers who may receive much higher pay scale and fringe benefits in law firms or as corporate lawyers in private companies.

Alongside this rejection, prospective applicants for various court personnel position also shun filing application in the judiciary.

"So, the result is the inevitable mounting of cases unattended now clogging our sales," bewails an RTC judge I talked to last week.

The ensuing backlog is certainly unfair to litigants, their lawyers and the public at large. Of course, not to mention the fact that the simple administration of justice is delayed and obstructed.

Exempt it from RA 6758

One sensible step to improve the pay scale of those in the judiciary is to exempt them from the Salary Standardization Law.

If granted by an act of Congress, judiciary personnel from the Chief Justice of the Supreme Court to the lowest janitor be equitably compensated in the "equal work, equal pay" principle that is in parallel to the two other branches of government, the proponents are saying.

What would be the most convincing argument for judiciary personnel from being exempt from RA 6758? Here are the plausible contentions:

1) It will ensure the independence of the judiciary.

2) It will give the judiciary complete fiscal autonomy.

3) It will be an opportunity to attract "the best, the most qualified and brilliant members of the bar" to join the judiciary.

4) The judiciary receives less than 1 percent of the national budget, compared to the executive and legislative branches of government. …

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