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House eyes budget hike for Judiciary

PHOTO BY MIKE GONZALEZ

A HOUSE of Representatives committee on Thursday agreed to give the Judiciary P2.8 billion more on top of its proposed budget for next year to fill the gaps in personnel services and maintenance and other operational expenses.  

The Budget department is proposing a P52.72-billion budget for the Judiciary, 28.9% lower than what it had sought. 

The judicial branch is composed of the Supreme Court, Sandiganbayan, Court of Appeals, Court of Tax Appeals, regional and municipal trial courts. 

Court Administrator Raul V. Villanueva told congressmen at a budget hearing their 2023 budget does not yet cover the Bar exams for next year. 

Cavite Rep. Roy M. Loyola agreed with the additional P2.8 billion, and said he would support restoring the original budget of P74.18 billion. 

Batangas Rep. Gerville R. Luistro also agreed with the additional fund. He also said the Judiciary should review the rules on preliminary investigations to prevent the filing of unfounded complaints. 

Party-list Rep. Marissa P. Magsino, Cagayan De Oro Rep. Rufus B. Rodriguez and Negros Occidental Rep. Juliet Marie D. Ferrer also supported the budget increase. 

Meanwhile, Energy Regulatory Commission head Monalisa C. Dimalanta expressed concern about the lack of funding for capital outlays in the Energy department’s 2023 budget. 

She also cited an alarming 9% attrition rate at the agency, where employees choose other career opportunities with better benefits and higher salaries.  

The Energy department’s budget for 2023 has increased to P2.22 billion from 1.32 billion this year. 

At the hearing, several congressmen cited electric cooperatives’ failure to provide electricity 24/7 and rising electricity prices. 

“Over time, we need to decrease our dependence on imported sources of fuel and develop indigenous resources,” Energy Secretary Raphael P. M. Lotilla told the hearing. — Kyanna Angela Bulan 

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