MANILA, Aug. 15 (PNA) — The Supreme Court has allowed the formal organization of two new divisions at the Sandiganbayan.
Sandiganbayan Presiding Justice Amparo Cabotaje-Tang relayed this development during the hearing of the House Committee on Appropriations chaired by Rep. Isidro T. Ungab (3rd District, Davao City) on the Php 26.6-billion budget proposal of the Judiciary for 2016.
“The Supreme Court already authorized the formal organization of these two new Sandiganbayan divisions. The deadline for application (for positions) was last August 3,” said Tang.
Tang responded to the query of Rep. Romero S. Quimbo (2nd District, Marikina City) if the process of choosing justices for positions in the two new Sandiganbayan divisions was indeed ongoing.
Quimbo said he was a principal sponsor of the proposed extension of the Sandiganbayan during the House deliberations on the bill.
Last April 16, 2015, President Aquino signed into law Republic Act 10660, which created two more divisions in the Sandiganbayan, bringing to seven the total number of divisions in the anti-graft court. Each division has three members each.
“We wish you well and hope this will expedite cases that are pending before the Sandiganbayan,” said Quimbo, a lawyer and chairman of the House Committee on Ways and Means.
Of the Php 26.6 billion total budget of the Judiciary for 2016, Php 505.9 million has been allotted to the Sandiganbayan.
In his Budget Message to Congress, President Aquino said the Php 505.9-million budget would enable the Sandiganbayan to adjudicate corruption cases expeditiously. He said the anti-graft court’s 2016 budget was 51 percent larger than in 2010 and would cover the creation of two more divisions to ease the Sandiganbayan’s case backlogs.
Based on the budget proposal of the Judiciary, of the Php 505.9 million budget for the Sandiganbayan, Php 285.397 million will go to personnel, Php 137.564 million to maintenance and other operating expenses, and Php 82.943 million to capital outlay.
The capital outlay includes funding for the reconstruction of the Sandiganbayan’s fifth floor to house the two additional divisions, and the acquisition of their furniture, fixtures and Information Technology (IT) equipment.
The original budget proposal of the Judiciary was Php 37.6 billion, but the executive department approved only Php 26.6 billion, representing a measly 0.89 percent of the total national budget of Php 3.002 trillion for 2016.
Of this amount, Php 24.261 billion will go to the Supreme Court of the Philippines and Lower Courts (SCPLC), Php 1.534 billion to the Court of Appeals (CA), Php 505.904 million to the Sandiganbayan, Php 281.608 million to the Court of Tax Appeals, and Php 90.864 million to the Presidential Electoral Tribunal (PET).(PNA)