• House leader seeks declogging of Sandiganbayan dockets

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    To declog the dockets of the Sandiganbayan with the least cost to the government and hasten resolution of corruption cases, a House leader proposed to allow individual justices of the anti-graft court to sit and receive evidence, in behalf of his or her division, instead of requiring the presence of three justices before a case is heard and evidence is accepted.

    Rep. Romero “Miro” Quimbo (2nd District, Marikina City) filed the proposal embodied in House Bill 3872, saying perhaps one of the legal loopholes which inadvertently aid corruption in the country are the snail-paced prosecution and adjudication of cases particularly in the Sandiganbayan.

    “This, in turn, is attributed to congestion problems and limited number of Justices to sit and dispose cases,” said Quimbo, a lawyer.

    At present, Quimbo said the Sandiganbayan is divided into five divisions of three Justices each.

    “Considering the magnitude of cases the Justices have to hear and decide on, with 2,600 cases pending as of late last year, the slow grind of the wheels of justice is inevitable product of the current system. It has been said that the litigation of a case in the Sandiganbayan takes about five to eight years before it is promulgated,” said Quimbo.

    Quimbo, chairman of the House Committee on Ways and Means, said while statistics on Philippine corruption has been improving, most recently jumping 11 spots in both the World Economic Forum’s Global Competitiveness Report and Transparency International’s Corruption Perception Index in 2013, the country still needs to intensify the crusade against corruption.

    “Despite the gains so far made, corruption still remains as the most problematic factor in doing business in the Philippines according to the Global Competitiveness Report, which accordingly, curtails the potentials of the economy. This is but one of the deleterious effects of the corrosion that corruption brings to our society. Also, the same report shows that in terms of efficiency of the legal framework, much has yet to be improved by our judicial institutions,” said Quimbo.

    He said his proposal is an ameliorative approach in declogging the dockets of the Sandiganbayan with the least cost to the government. He further said his HB 3872 is a counterpart of Senate Bill 470 filed by Senate President Franklin Drilon.

    “In my shared vision and commitment with Sen. Drilon to improve our judicial system and support our government’s fight against corruption, I am earnestly seeking the immediate approval of this measure by Congress,” said Quimbo.

    House Bill 3872 seeks the amendment of Section 3 of Presidential Decree No. 1606, as amended, so that the Sandiganbayan shall sit in five divisions of three justices each. In case of temporary disability of a Justice or a vacancy, the Presiding Justice may designate another Justice of the Court, to be determined by strict rotation on the basis of the reverse order of precedence, to sit as a special member of said division with all the rights and prerogatives of a regular member of said division in the trial and determination of a case or cases assigned thereof.

    The bill further provides that every case filed with the Sandiganbayan shall be raffled for assignment to a Justice-in-Charge, which shall monitor and report the developments in the case to the members of his Division. The Justice-in-Charge shall hear and receive evidence for the Division to which he belongs and resolve every incident that arises in the course of the proceeding in that case.

    Furthermore, after the case has been submitted for decision, the Justice-in-Charge shall submit a report to the Division, which report shall contain a summary of the conflicting claims of the parties, the issue or issues involved, the arguments of the contending sides, and the laws and jurisprudence that can aid the Division in deciding or resolving the case.

    The bill provides that in consultation, the three members of the Division shall agree on the conclusion or conclusions in the case and assign a member to write the decision for the Division. If the unanimous vote of all its members cannot be had, the Presiding Justice shall designate by raffle two special members for the Division to constitute it into Division of five Justices. The vote of the majority of such Division shall prevail. PNA

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