JDF is not pork barrel: CJ Sereno

Posted at 12/23/2013 5:52 PM | Updated as of 12/23/2013 5:52 PM

MANILA - Chief Justice Maria Lourdes Sereno on Monday issued a statement, stressing that the Judiciary Development Fund (JDF) is "not a pork barrel fund."

"It is a special purpose fund established in 1984 under PD No 1949 for the benefit of the members and personnel of the judiciary to help ensure and guarantee the independence of the judiciary as mandated by the Constitution and public policy and required by the impartial administration of justice,'" Sereno said.

Sereno stressed that under the said issuance, the Chief Justice is "not given any discretion on how the funds will be used."

The Chief Justice is merely authorized to "administer and allocate the fund and shall have the sole exclusive power and duty to approve the authorized disbursements and expenditures of the fund," she said.

Contrary to what is being reported, there is no P5 billion JDF, Sereno also pointed out.

"The 80% component of the fund is released monthly to the employees as cost of living allowances. As of Nov 30, 2013, the 20% component of the fund has an accumulated balance of P1.435 billion as certified by the Chief of Office of the Fiscal Management and Budget Office of the Supreme Court."

"Of this amount, P732.5 million has been earmarked for the Halls of Justice of the Court of Appeals in Cebu and Cagayan de Oro and the consultancy services for the electrical system at the Supreme Court. Another P620.7 million has been certified as available for various capital outlays of the court, including the procurement of computer sets, and the construction and repair of court houses," Sereno said.

A report on the uses and balances of the JDF was submitted to the House Committee on Appropriations and the Senate Finance Committee last September for the passage of the 2014 budget, she added.

Lastly, the 20% component of the fund intended for office equipment and court facilities makes up for P200 million per year, "barely enough for the court (SC) to source its budget for renovations, repairs, and construction of halls of justice and for the various equipment needed for court operations, Sereno said.