Press Release
July 29, 2008


Senate Majority Leader and Independent senator today appealed to critics of the Joint Judiciary, Executive and Legislative Advisory and Consultative Council (JELACC) to propose first an alternative to the said body before rejecting its existence. JELACC, which aims to strengthen the judiciary and push for modernization through fiscal support, is the Majority Leader's brainchild.

"I will be the first to junk JELACC for a better alternative, if one is proposed. The judiciary has far too long been neglected in the budgetary process. We cannot simply watch while the judiciary every year receives a dismal share of less than one percent of the national budget," Kiko said.

Senate Minority Leader Aquilino Pimentel earlier called for the abolition of JELACC, saying it will undermine the independence of the judiciary. JELACC is the first body that involves as members all three branches of government. It is designed to explore the necessary budgetary support for filling the vacancy in our courts, the creation of more courts, and the promotion of a strategic response to strengthening the rule of law.

"We respect his contrary view even if we disagree with it. If those who are critical of JELACC can come up with a better proposal to solve the woes of the judiciary then I will be all for it. There will always be those who will be critical of new ideas and fresh, untried approaches but sector leaders must be willing to take calculated risks in the form of new strategies and approaches if genuine reforms are to be achieved," Kiko added.

"Firstly, the creation of the JELACC is not by law. Hence, at any given time, any party to the agreement may send notice to other parties of its desire to withdraw its participation from the Council. The hands of the Supreme Court are not tied to the JELACC should it deem necessary to disengage because of legal or policy differences. Secondly, the creation of JELACC was executed by MOA and not by law precisely because the Council is meant to be ad hoc in nature. The sooner it is dissolved the better because this would mean that reforms have been realized and the Council's existence becomes unnecessary," Kiko asserted.

"We cry out for justice. We cry out for the end to corruption. We demand public accountability yet our justice system has not been given the budgetary support to make it happen. We must look to creative and out of the box approaches to solving decades old problems plaguing the justice system. We are in search of real solutions and real results that will ensure the long overdue modernization of the judiciary. Absent any better alternative, I appeal to the critics of JELACC to give JELACC a chance," Kiko ended.

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