Sen. Leila M. de Lima has pushed for the grant of hazard pay to court officials whose works make their lives and security exposed to risks not only from criminals but also from natural disasters and armed conflicts.
De Lima, a lawyer by profession, filed Senate Bill No. 1347, also known as the “Hazard Pay for Justice Sector Officials Act” providing additional hazard pay for court officials in second level courts, such as judges, clerks, public prosecutors and attorneys.
“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 said.
SB 1347 seeks to grant hazard pay equivalent to an additional 15 percent of the basic monthly salary of officials in Risk-adjacent Courts – declared as such by the Supreme Court due to their geographical location or proximity to prolonged armed conflicts or disaster-prone areas, whether First or Second Level Court.
The proposed measure also proposes an additional hazard pay of 10 percent of their basic monthly salary to be given to covered officials in Second Level Courts, such as Regional Trial Courts and Shari’a District Courts, which handle criminal cases.
All additional hazard pay proposed in the measure are to be exempted from tax.
“Add to this is the criminality and terrorism that seek to sow fear against those that stand in their way, including our court officials who are tasked with administering justice. Officials in second level courts are further exposed to risks from criminal elements being the courts assigned to hear heinous crimes and cases with higher stakes,” De Lima said.
The former justice secretary also explained that it is the responsibility of the government to ensure that the country’s courts continue to carry out their functions despite the risks and dangers brought about by armed conflict or natural calamities.
“Our country is not a stranger to risks. Natural disasters batter our country with increasing frequency, while armed conflicts occasionally erupt. We should strive to keep the courts operating especially in these areas that need governance most,” she said.
“For our democracy to function, we must instill upon our citizens’ faith in our court system. Our government must endeavor to keep our courts functioning in spite of the forces that undermine them,” she added.