MANILA, Philippines — The informational technology (IT) consultant hired by Chief Justice Maria Lourdes Sereno was receiving a higher salary than she was.
However, the high court’s resident IT specialist said the development in their Enterprise Information Systems Plan (EISP) was “not substantial” despite the hiring of the expert.
“The hardware side . . . those are the ones that’s almost finished. But for the application side, only the judiciary email is ongoing,” lawyer Carlos Garay, Management Information Systems Office (MISO) acting chief said.
Garay acknowledged that the EISP, which includes the automation of the country’s courts, would take several years and requires the setting up of infrastructure, nationwide connectivity, network security, data management and software applications.
Earlier, Sereno said the EISP would speed up adjudication of cases, increase personnel productivity and improve court and case management.
To help steer this automation, the Supreme Court hired Helen Macasaet, who received a monthly salary of P250,000 from 2014 to 2017. This was bigger than that P233,000 per month salary of Sereno.
In his impeachment complaint against Sereno, lawyer Lorenzo Gadon alleged that the chief magistrate had betrayed public trust when she hired an IT consultant with an excessive compensation without public bidding, in contravention of existing laws, Commission on Audit (CoA) rules, and public policy.
Lawyer Michael Ocampo from the Office of the Chief Justice said he was the one who had negotiated the process of procurement of Macasaet’s services with the former MISO head. He denied being biased in the process of hiring of Macasaet as an IT consultant.
“It’s a master plan to automate 2,700 courts nationwide . . .it’s like automating a big organization,” Ocampo said, adding that this required a highly technical consultant.
Garay said that as head of the MISO, he did not need any IT consultant.
“When I came to the Supreme Court, I was confident of my own abilities, so I don’t need a general IT consultant . . . probably, I would get a specialized consultant,” he said.
Macasaet said she believed her compensation was commensurate with her experience in the field and the service she gave to the high court.
She also said that she did not get the P250,000 in full every month, but only around P80,000 after deducting all taxes and expenses related to her work.
“Excluding all personal expenses, I would be getting more or less a net of P80,000, which I used to buy make-up, decent clothes, pair of shoes to face the judges and the justices,” she told the panel.