Abad holds historic meeting with SC justices

Posted at 09/06/2012 1:05 AM | Updated as of 09/06/2012 10:49 AM

MANILA - Budget Secretary Butch Abad described his discussion with new Chief Justice Maria Lourdes Sereno and 12 justices of the Supreme Court as "open, cordial and frank."

Abad went to meet with the high court magistrates on Wednesday to discuss the judiciary's budget.

Associate Justices Antonio Carpio and Arturo Brion were not present during the meeting.

Abad refused to give details about the meeting in deference to the Supreme Court. 

Asked how the relationship with the high court is now after the divisive impeachment trial of former CJ Renato Corona, Abad said the relationship had improved.

"There is openness between the two agencies," he said.

He also bared raising his proposals with the magistrates on the computerization of court processes and for the high court to engage the public more via a stronger online and social media presence.

The meeting between Abad and the justices lasted for almost 2 hours. It was held at the en banc conference room of the SC.

It was the first time for a budget chief to visit the high court in Padre Faura to discuss the budget of the Judiciary.
 
Malacañan and the Supreme Court had been bickering about the Judiciary's budget since last year after the Palace imposed upon the high court conditions on its expenditures, specifically, requiring the Supreme Court to use funds for unfilled positions specifically for the purpose. Malacañan also required the high court to do a quarterly reporting of its spending.

The high court, then led by Chief Justice Renato Corona, maintained that this violated the fiscal autonomy of the Judiciary as enshrined in the 1987 Constitution.
 
The DBM also slashed the judiciary's special allowance for justices and judges (SAJJ) for this year and wants billions of court fees turned over to the national treasury -- a move still being appealed by the Supreme Court.