Today is Sunday, July 22, 2018

ARCAJI Proposes Amendments to Retirement Law for Justices

By J. Wenceslao I. Agnir, Jr. (Ret.)

Under R.A. 910, the retirement law for justices, a retiree is entitled to a monthly pension for life only if he completes twenty (20) years of government service, at least five (5) of which were spent in the judiciary. In other words, a retiree who does not have a total of twenty (20) years of government service is not entitled to a monthly pension even if he has served the judiciary for, say, eighteen (18) years.

Also, under R.A. 910, when a pensioner dies, there’s no provision for survivorship benefits for the surviving spouse.

Early last year, the officers of the Association of Retired Court of Appeals Justices, Inc. (ARCAJI) brought these concerns to the attention of Congressman Simeon Datumanong, then Chairman of the Committee on Justice in the House of Representatives. ARCAJI proposed a proportionate pension for a retiree who has served the judiciary for at least ten (10) years, even if he did not complete twenty (20) years of government service. ARCAJI also proposed a provision for survivorship benefits in R.A. 910, similar to the survivorship provision under the GSIS retirement law. Congressman Datumanong assured ARCAJI that he would seriously consider the proposals.

The last Congress adjourned before Congressman Datumanong could file the appropriate amendatory bill. However, in the present Congress, even as Congressman Datumanong is no longer the Chairman of the Justice Committee, he filed House Bill No. 1865 which, to ARCAJI’s pleasant surprise, even improved ARCAJI’s proposals.

Under H.B. 1865, the required number of years of government service was reduced from twenty (20) to fifteen (15). Furthermore, a retiree who did not complete fifteen (15) years of service is entitled to a proportionate monthly pension provided he served in the judiciary for at least five (5) years. Thus:

Years of Service
x Salary & Allowance
of incumbent justice

= Monthly Pension

H.B. 1865 also incorporates into R.A. 910 the survivorship benefits provision of the GSIS retirement law.

During ARCAJI’s Christmas party last December 12, 2007, they invited as special guests Senator Francis Pangilinan, Chairman of the Senate Justice Committee, and Congressman Ferj Biron, member of the Justice Committee of the House of Representatives. Both these outstanding legislators pledged their unqualified support to H.B. 1865.  Sen. Pangilinan may even decide to file the Senate version of the bill.

There are many ARCAJI retirees who are not enjoying a monthly pension for lack of twenty years of government service even if they have served a substantial number of years in the judiciary. The proposed amendments, if approved, will encourage outstanding law practitioners in their 50’s to join the judiciary. ARCAJI members who have access to influential members of Congress are requested to help push the bill’s approval.

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