THE Supreme Court has amended its internal rules to speed up the resolution of pending cases. In a court notice, the high tribunal approved the revision of Rule 2, Section 3 (e) and (f), and Rule 13, Sections 4 and 5 of the Internal Rules of the Supreme Court (IRSC).

The changes were approved on May 4, but the details were released to the media on Friday.

In revising Rule 2, Section 3 (e), the Court increased the penalty threshold for administrative cases to be elevated to the en banc (as a whole), from suspension "for a period of more than one year, or a fine exceeding P40,000" to suspension "for a period of more than two year, or a fine in the total amount exceeding P100,000."

The high court also limited the cases to be elevated to the en banc involving the lifting of judges' or lawyers' suspension, as provided under Rule 2, Section 3 (f), to those cases where the imposed periods of suspension are more than two years.

The en banc also shortened the period for distribution to other members of the court of the member-in charge's report on a case from at least seven days, as stated in Rule 13, Section (c), to at least three days in advance prior to the scheduled agenda.

The permissible total period of continuances in the deliberation of cases, as stated in Rule 13, Section 4, was also changed from "shall not exceed three months" to "shall exceed the periods provided in Section 5 (b) of the IRSC.

Rule 13, Section 5 prescribes a period of one month within which to submit reflections, comments or suggestions, and a period of two weeks to resolve the case thereafter unless further extension is allowed by the court for compelling reasons upon the recommendation of the member in charge.

Chief Justice Alexander Gesmundo said the additional proposal to increase the efficiency of courts was being considered, including, among others, the revisions of the entire Rules of Court by amending the Rules of Criminal Procedure.

Gesmundo pointed out the problem of delay in the disposition of cases and in finding creative solutions to address the public's lack of access to responsive justice.

"This is precisely the reason why among my short-term goals for the Philippine courts, like the other chief justices before me, is the speedy disposition of cases," he added.

"As far as the Supreme Court is concerned, what else can be done, apart from implementing these procedural rules? During my term, I intend to focus on two things: case decongestion, that is, the substantial reduction of the dockets of the Supreme Court and a technology-driven judiciary," Gesmundo said.