THREE years ago, a handful of Cebu judges said “no more” to allowances given by the Cebu provincial government.
The controversy over the stipend—with its potential for raising doubt about a judge’s impartiality in cases involving the host local government—was raised in 2008.
It became a controversy after the allowance of RTC Judge Bienvenido Saniel was withheld by Gov. Gwen Garcia after the judge ruled against the province in a civil case over control of the Metro Cebu Water District.
As a sign of protest, Judges Meinrado Paredes, who was then RTC executive judge, Ramon Daomilas and Gabriel Ingles waived their allowances from the Capitol.
Ingles said it was important to preserve “judicial independence.” He went farther and declined to receive his stipend from the Cebu City government.
It was not a popular move.
Other judges didn’t see the need to spurn the allowances since there was legal basis for them under the Local Government Code of 1991, which says local governments can “provide for additional allowances and other benefits to judges, prosecutors, public elementary and high school teachers and other national government officials stationed in or assigned to the city.”
Paredes continues to receive an allowance from the Cebu City government. He said no conflict of interest would arise since he is assigned to a court that handles illegal drug cases and not cases against the city government.
Since then, judges continue to enjoy allowances from the Cebu City and provincial government with requests coming in from other quarters.
The prosecutors and clerks of court have taken to openly lobbying for higher stipends.