It takes the Sandiganbayan—an anti-graft court–around seven and a half years to resolve a case, Sandiganbayan Presiding Justice Amparo Tang told a congressional committee on Thursday.
Tan was being quizzed by Rep. Harry Roque of Kabayan party-list group during a presentation of the P32.5-billion proposed budget of the judiciary for 2017 before the House appropriations panel.
The Sandiganbayan is under the jurisdiction of the Supreme Court, the head of the judiciary.
“The average [time]of getting a case resolved is seven and a half years or less. I understand the concern, your honors, and the Sandiganbayan has been trying its best to expedite the resolution of cases before it,” Tang also told lawmakers.
“There are a lot of congruent factors that explain the delays. From the time of the filing of the information, to the trial proper… there are several incidents that crop up, like the counsel filing a motion to determine the probable cause, among other several motions,” she said.
Tang then announced that the anti-graft court has already asked the Supreme Court to amend internal rules by prohibiting parties from filing motion for determination of probable cause.
“If that will be granted by the Supreme Court, we will be able to lessen the period of delay for at least one year,” she said.
The Regional Trial Courts (RTCs) are no better, taking an average of five years before they are able to resolve a case.
Supreme Court Justice Presbitero Velasco conceded that this case backlog has been a long-standing problem and has urged Congress to create laws establishing more RTCs and ensure funding for them.
Velasco said in Bacoor, Cavite alone, there are 8,000 pending cases because the newly created 10 RTCs by law are yet to be funded by the government.
“The only way that we can expedite the case processing by a judge is to give him a manageable case load. An RTC judge should only have, at most, 300 cases. Otherwise, there won’t be enough time to expedite the trial,” he added.
Velasco rued that only 48 of the 100 Family Courts are funded, and as such the RTCs are being forced to function as Family Courts at the same time.
“Since the RTC judges are also into family-related cases, this becomes an additional burden. That is why we are calling on the government that once new courts [are created], they should be immediately funded,” he said.
“We need warm bodies to expedite the resolution of cases,” Velasco added.