The camp of Supreme Court Chief Justice Maria Lourdes Sereno slammed lawyer Lorenzo Gadon for blaming her for the alleged delay in the release of survivorship benefits due to the wife of a retired Court of Appeals justice, calling the allegation baseless and unfounded.
Sereno’s spokesman lawyer Jojo Lacanilao said that while they sympathize with the family of 94-year-old Dolores Colayco, who died on Oct. 3 without receiving the benefits, it was unfair to accuse the Chief Justice of delaying action on the case.
“The Chief Justice did not delay action on the resolution of survivorship petitions filed by Mrs. Colayco and all other surviving spouses of deceased justices and judges,” Lacanilao said.
Lacanilao said that Sereno herself has “no power to act unilaterally” on those petitions, as well as the applications for retirement benefits of justices and judges.
He explained that as part of administrative reforms of the court, applications for retirement benefits are now referred to the Special Committee on Retirement and Civil Service Benefits to help ensure judiciary-wide consistency of rules and grants.
“Where necessary, as when applications have issues, further study is undertaken by the Committee or its Technical Working Groups,” Lacanilao added.
“Upon endorsement of the Committee, the applications are submitted to the Supreme Court En Banc for approval.” Sara Susanne D. Fabunan
Meanwhile, Assistant Court Administrator and SC Public Information Office chief Theodore Te provided a background information on the Colayco case, which explains why it took more than a year before the survivorship benefits was approved by the SC en banc.
According to Te, CA Justice Jose Colayco compulsorily retired from the judiciary on Dec. 17, 1982, at age 70. He died on May 26, 1992.
At the time of his death, Republic Act No. 910 provided that upon the death of a retired justice, no further benefits were due the spouse. RA 9946 was enacted in 2010, substantially amending RA 910.
Te noted that Mrs. Colayco’s application for survivorship benefits was received by the SC from the CA in August 2016.
“Considering the possibility of conflicting resolutions on the application of survivorship benefits, the SC en banc had to arrive at a policy decision,” Te explained.
He said the policy decision was arrived at on Sept. 19, 2017.
In its resolution, the SC resolved, among others, to grant the application for survivorship pension benefits of the legitimate spouses of justices and judges who retired prior to RA 9946.
Thus, the application of Mrs. Colayco was approved on October 10, 2017.
Te said the benefits that Mrs. Colayco was entitled to receive will accrue to her heirs.