Senate approves ‘survivorship benefits’ to deceased prosecutors’ families

Senate approves ‘survivorship benefits’ to deceased prosecutors’ families

By Ernie Reyes

MANILA – The Senate passed on third and final reading a measure
granting benefits to the surviving legitimate spouse and dependent
children of deceased retired members of the National Prosecution
Service (NPS).

With 22 unanimous votes of senators physically and virtually present,
Senate Bill No. (SBN) 2373, or An Act Granting Survivorship Benefits
to the Surviving Legitimate Spouse and Dependent Children of a
Deceased Retired Member of the National Prosecution Service, was
approved.

Sen. Richard Gordon, who chairs the Senate Committee on Justice and
Human Rights, steered the passage of the measure in recognition of the
important role of the prosecutors in the country’s criminal system
amid risks to their safety and families.
,
“This measure recognizes the courage of our prosecutors who in the
faithful performance of their duties as members of the court face
serious threats and risks to their lives and that of their families,”
he said.

“Araw-araw po, mayroon tayong prosecuting officers na kung minsan,
tinatakot, bina-bribe. Dapat ipakita natin na tayo ay nasa likod nila.
Ang sistema ng katarungan natin ay dapat maipagtanggol at maalagaan
natin lahat, hindi lang ang mga huwes, kundi maging ang prosecution
officials,” he added.

Principally authored by Sen. Juan Edgardo “Sonny” Angara, SBN 2373 is
also co-authored by Senate President Vicente Sotto III, Majority
Leader Juan Miguel “Migz” F. Zubiri, Senators Emmanuel “Manny”
Pacquiao, Christopher Lawrence Go, Win Gatchalian, Nancy Binay, Joel
Villanueva, Panfilo Lacson and Gordon.

Gordon said SBN 2373, contained in Committee Report No. 296,
recognizes the sacrifices made by the prosecutors who play a very
important role in the country’s criminal justice system by risking
their personal safety and that of their families.

According to human rights groups, at least 110 lawyers, judges, and
prosecutors have been killed in the country from 1977 to 2021, more
than half of which have occurred under the present administration.

At present, the government provides survivorship benefits to officials
and employees of the Office of the Ombudsman, members of the
Judiciary, and other government officials.

The retirement benefits given to prosecutors are essentially similar
to the retirement assistances of the Judiciary, except for the
survivorship benefits.

Angara, for his part, said the proposed bill protects the welfare of
the surviving spouse and qualified heirs of the deceased prosecutors
to cushion them against the adverse economic effects of unexpected
deaths, especially in view of the series of unfortunate and untoward
incidents that have exposed government prosecutors to “risks and
perils to life”.

“The ‘risks and perils to life’ faced by prosecutors should be
counterbalanced by a modest grant or entitlement such as survivorship
benefit. Indeed, the grant of survivorship benefit is a fitting way to
give appreciation to the deserving men and women in the NPS who
dedicated their lives for public service and who devoted their minds
and talents in order to be instruments in the dispensation of justice
in the country,” he said.

“Prosecutors are saddled with heavy caseloads and on top of this they
face constant risks to life because of the nature of their work. The
grant of survivorship benefits to the members of the NPS is but a
small gesture of our appreciation of the work that they are doing in
the service of the country,” Angara said.

SBN 2373 provides that in case of death of a retired member of the
NPS, the surviving legitimate spouse and dependent children of the
deceased prosecutor will be entitled to receive all the retirement
benefits that he or she was already receiving.

In case of death of a NPS member who is already eligible to retire,
the same survivorship benefits would also be provided to the surviving
legitimate spouse and dependent children.

As defined in the bill, “dependent” refers to the “legitimate,
illegitimate, or legally adopted child who is chiefly dependent on the
said deceased member of the NPS if said dependent is not more than 21
years of age, unmarried and not gainfully employed or if such
dependent, regardless of age, is incapable of self-support because of
mental or physical defect or condition.”

Bill also provides that the surviving legitimate spouse “shall
continue to receive such retirement benefits during his or her
lifetime until he or she remarries, and that the surviving spouse and
dependent children shall equally share the retirement benefits.

“(The) funds for the initial implementation of this Act shall be taken
out from the current appropriations for the retirement of members of
the NPS; thereafter, such sum as may be necessary for the continued
implementation hereof shall be included in the Annual General
Appropriations Act,” the bill stated.

The bill also provides for a retroactive application to include
members of the NPS who died one year prior to the effectiveness of the
law. (ai/mtvn)

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