Malacanang shrugs off protest by court employees

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Monday, July 21, 2014

MALACANANG shrugged off Monday the "red-and-black protest" launched by the employees of the judiciary against President Benigno Aquino III, who recently hit the Supreme Court following its ruling against the administration's Disbursement Acceleration Program (DAP).

"This is a free country. Everybody is free to express their opinion one way or the other," said Presidential Spokesperson Edwin Lacierda in a press briefing.

The Judiciary Employees Association (Judea), which led the protest action, accused Aquino of undermining the independence of the court.

Aquino, in some instances, including the national address last week, slammed the SC, which ruled 13-0, for declaring parts of the DAP as unconstitutional.

He insisted that the administration used government savings to finance projects under DAP in good faith.

Judea members also protested the Bureau of Internal Revenue's (BIR) recent memorandum, which imposes taxes on their benefits.

Lacierda said that the President has no intention of challenging the integrity of the court, particularly the SC.

"We have a burden for judicial reform in this country and I think everyone of you would know that cases here take long but that does not mean that we are impugning the integrity of the judiciary. What we are all after is judicial reform. That's one area where we would like to see more of these cases be expedited," he said.

On the BIR memorandum, Lacierda said that it did not cover the employees of the judiciary alone.

He said all government employees pay taxes on allowances at a certain level.

"We all pay taxes even for our allowances. So the particular BIR memorandum covers all. It cannot be applied to just one. So I do not think it is a form to harass anyone. Everyone should pay whatever is required to be paid under the National Internal Revenue Code or the Tax Reform Act of 1997. There is no focus on the judiciary in respect of that," he explained. (SDR/Sunnex)

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