Press Release
July 30, 2019

De Lima files bill granting hazard pay for justice sector officials

Opposition Senator Leila M. de Lima has reintroduced a measure seeking to grant hazard pay for justice sector officials who face life-threatening dangers for fulfilling their mandate, including those handling criminal cases and being assigned to conflict or disaster areas.

In filing Senate Bill (SB) No. 624, De Lima said first level and second level court officials, such as judges, clerks of court, public prosecutors and public attorneys, deserve the support of the government by receiving hazard pays.

"These senseless killings and attacks [against justice workers] sow fear among our administrators of justice and thus have a chilling effect in the discharge of their functions," she said.

"We need to enact an incentive system that is commensurate to the dangers faced by our public officials. This will encourage our brave countrymen to take up posts in otherwise less than ideal public offices," she added.

Among the court officials killed in broad daylight in the past years include Quezon City Prosecutor Prosecutor Rogelio Velasco and Regional Trial Court Executive Judge Edmundo Pintac who were both shot dead in 2018 while handling drug and illegal firearms cases and Davao Oriental Prosecutor Rolando Acido who was killed in 2016 while he was on his way to the Mati Hall of Justice.

SB No. 624, also known as the "Hazard Pay for Justice Sector Officials Act of 2019," proposes to grant covered officials in Risk-adjacent Courts of a monthly hazard pay of 15 percent of their basic monthly salary.

Note that Risk-adjacent Courts are those declared as such by the Supreme Court by reason of their geographical location or proximity to prolonged armed conflicts or disaster-prone areas.

Meanwhile, the covered officials in Second Level Courts who handle criminal cases, including regional trial courts and Shari'a District Courts, shall be entitled to an additional hazard pay of 10 percent of their basic monthly salary.

"The hazard pay for covered officials shall not be subject to tax and nothing in this Act shall be construed as to diminish, in any manner, any benefit granted by existing laws, rules and regulations, local ordinances and other issuances especially favorable to said covered officials," she noted.

In filing the measure, the former justice secretary added that it is the duty of the government to endeavor to keep the country's courts functioning in spite of the forces that undermine them.

"The rule of law is the principle upon which all modern societies are based. For our democracy to function, we must instill upon our citizens' faith in our court system," said De Lima, who was a practicing lawyer before she entered public service.

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