3 judges’ associations try to drum up support for protests vs budget cuts

12/06/10 - IN SESSION, judges wear black.

The presidents of three organizations of judges requested them and their court personnel to wear black as well in their flag-raising ceremony today.

It will be their way of showing objections to any cuts in the judiciary’s budget for 2011 and to appeal for legislators to allocate funds for salary increases and differentials since 2007.

The decision to dramatize their requests was relayed to Cebu’s judges by Judge Antonio Eugenio of the Philippine Judges’ Association (PJA), Judge Jaime Santiago of the Metropolitan and Cities Judges of the Philippines (METCJP) and Judge Josefina Siscar
of the Trial Judges’ Association of the Philippines Inc. (TJAPI).

The lack of funds has distorted salary scales, so that some clerks of court receive a higher basic pay than judges, said Judge Joshua Palalay of the Ormoc City Metropolitan Trial Court in Cities.

“Correct po ‘yong report niyo. Yun lang naman ang ‘cry’ ng judges (Your report is correct. That is really the judges’ cry),” Judge Santiago said in a text message, when asked if he was among those who urged their colleagues to wear black today.

Santiago added the leaders of the three organizations of judges will meet at 3 p.m. today to discuss their next move.

“We will release our official statement requesting an audience with the President or legislative leaders,” Santiago said.

Cebu Regional Trial Court (RTC) Executive Judge Meinrado Paredes said that while he supports calls to protest cuts in the judiciary’s budget, judges in Cebu have yet to agree on a collective stand.

“We want a collegial decision to a collegial discussion,” said Judge Paredes, in a phone interview.

But should the other judges and court staff from the RTC wear black today, they are allowed to do so.

Judge Paredes said he recognizes how important the protest will be, particularly to judges like him, and he feels sympathetic over the matter.

But he added he was caught off-guard when the three organizations decided immediately to conduct the protest, without prior notice.

Paredes said he will meet with fellow RTC judges today to discuss the matter. (Sunstar)

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