SOME 2,600 cases gather dust in the Sandiganbayan and the agonizingly slow disposition of cases can be attributed to the restrictive provision on the law that created the anti-graft court, Sen. Franklin Drilon said on Wednesday.
According to Drilon litigation of graft cases in the Sandiganyan usually takes five to eight years because of Section 3 of the Sandiganbayan Law, which strictly requires the presence of at least three justices before a case and evidence could be heard.
The existing provision, Drilon said, became inapplicable to present times because the government has expanded and cases filed before the anti-graft court have multiplied over the years, and that culprit provision only contributes to the increasing number of unresolved cases.
The Sandiganbayan is composed of five divisions with three justices each.
To address the problem, Drilon has proposed a bill seeking to amend the Sandiganbayan Law and ease certain restrictive provisions in the law to speed up the resolution of cases.
In filing Senate Bill 470, Drilonl seeks to capacitate individual justices of the anti-graft court by allowing them to hear and receive evidence in behalf of the division to which he or she belongs.
The bill provides for a justice-in-charge in every case filed with the anti-graft court who shall monitor and report the developments in the case to the members of his division.
After the case has been submitted for decision, the justice-in-charge will submit a report to the division enough to aid them in deciding on the fate of the case.
“Sandiganbayan has been overwhelmed with the humongous files of unheard and unresolved cases. It is imperative that we address the increasing backlog of cases in that court created to effectively and swiftly deal with corruption cases involving government workers,” Drilon pointed out.
He also explained that by mandating the three members of the division to jointly decide on the case, the division can appoint a member to write the decision in behalf of all its members in order to speed up the process.
On the even the division cannot arrive at a unanimous decision, the presiding justice shall designate by raffle, two special members for the division to form a division of five. The vote of the majority of such division shall prevail.