More money, more money

The Philippine Supreme Court has seen President Aquino’s first budget, and it is upset. The Judiciary seldom gets much more than .8% of the budget. In 2007, the judiciary received only .76% of the national budget, in 2008, .88%, in 2009, .94%, and in 2010, .87%,” the SC lamented. However, according to PhilStar:

Court administrator and SC spokesman Jose Midas Marquez earlier told the House committee on appropriations that they are asking for P27.1 billion, but Malacañang has cut the proposal to only P14.3 billion.

In other words, the current allocation is a mere .78% of the budget. It’s a significant cut for a judicial system that already suffers severe resource constraints. The Supreme Court issued a very strong statement condemning the budget. Here’s a particularly excitable excerpt:

Many of our judges and justices will continue to use their own personal computers and printers, repair their own courtrooms, work on weekends to declog their dockets… But until when can they last? Are we waiting for our justices and judges to march the streets, for the judiciary to revolt, for justice to ground to a halt? Are we courting chaos?

One interesting longer term question is whether this resource crisis will undermine the Philippine Judiciary’s independence. If judges have to beg the administration for more funding, will they be more susceptible to influence. One might think so. However, I personally hope the Philippine Supreme Court has enough of a sense of history to prevent that from happening. Based on Shadow of Doubt, I’m not so sure, but I suspect the Court might become more moderate over the next few years OR become increasingly involved in issues that concern the elites (and thereby building a stronger base of political support). As always with the Philippines, these are interesting times…

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