The House sub-committee on judicial reforms has conducted preliminary deliberations on several measures seeking to create more court salas in various parts of the country.
Rep. Vicente Veloso (3rd District, Leyte), panel chairman, underscored the importance of the bills in addressing the shortage of court salas, which is one of the main problems of the judiciary.
Veloso, a former Court of Appeals Justice, said the insufficiency in the number of trial courts is one of the causes of delay in the adjudication of cases.
The sub-committee held initial discussions on House Bill 652, seeking to create an additional Regional Trial Court (RTC) branch, a Municipal Trial Court (MTC), and a Municipal Circuit Trial Court (MCTC), all in Misamis Occidental, introduced by Rep. Henry Oaminal (2nd District, Misamis Occidental); and HB No. 286, urging the creation of an additional branch of the RTC in Mountain Province, by Rep. Maximo Dalog (Lone District, Mountain Province);
Meanwhile, House Bill 3492 authored by Rep. Juan Pablo Bondoc (4th District, Pampanga) seeks the creation of three RTC branches in Pampanga and HB 3565 by Rep. Manuel Jose Dalipe (2nd District, Zamboanga City), and HB 3749 by Rep. Celso Lobregat (1st District, Zamboanga City), both seek the creation of four branches of the RTC in Zamboanga City.
Oaminal, chairman of the sub-committee on correctional reforms, said HB 652 aims to ease the burden of the courts which will certainly lead to a speedier and inexpensive resolution of cases. The bill seeks to create an additional RTC branch in Ozamis City; the conversion of the MCTC comprising the Municipalities of Clarin and Tudela into an MTC of Clarin; and the establishment of an MCTC covering the municipalities of Sinacaban and Tudela, all in the second district of Misamis Occidental.
Oaminal explained the existing judicial courts in the province’s second district are beset with docket congestions and delays in the resolution of cases due to the increase in the crime rate and the rise in the legal cases filed.
He said his bill is “in consonance with the State’s policy of providing effective mechanism for the efficient administration of justice.”
Dalog explained his HB 286, which seeks to create an additional branch of RTC to be located in the municipality of Paracelis, Mountain Province, “will address the great injustice and social inequity to the litigants brought about by the far distance of the nearest RTC located in the capital town of Bontoc from the municipality of Paracelis.”
Dalog said that litigants who come from Paracelis have to travel more than 10 hours, passing though the provinces of Ifugao, Isabela, and Nueva Vizcaya just to attend the hearings in Bontoc, Mountain Province where the judicial courts are located.
“One of the reasons why most of the cases originating from Paracelis get dismissed is because the complainants and their witnesses fail to appear before the RTCs in Bontoc,” Dalog said, citing the difficulty and cost of travel for the failure of the litigants and witnesses to appear in the trial courts.
Bondoc, a Deputy Speaker, said his HB 3492, which seeks the creation of three RTC branches in Macabebe, Pampanga, is aimed at “improving the disposition and administration of justice, ensuring the right of the accused to a speedy trial, and promoting efficient public service.”
Bondoc stressed that there is an urgent need to create additional trial courts in view of the continued increase in the number of cases filed in court.
Dalipe said his HB 3565, which seeks to create four additional branches of RTC in Zamboanga City, aims to enhance the administration and disposition of justice, which is in line with the constitutional mandate of a speedy trial of all cases.
Dalipe said there is crucial need to increase the number of RTC branches in the City as the existing trial courts cannot cope with the voluminous number of pending cases. He added there might be an increase in the number of cases to be filed in view of the Duterte administration’s intensified campaign against illegal drugs.
Lobregat said his HB 3749, proposing the establishment of four RTC branches in Zamboanga City, will address the urgent need to decongest the court dockets and promote speedy adjudication of cases in their city.
He cited Section 16 Article III of the 1987 Constitution which provides that “All persons shall have the right to a speedy disposition of their cases before all judicial, quasi-judicial, or administrative bodies.”
Lobregat, a former Zamboanga City mayor, quoted Supreme Court Justice Presbitero Velasco in saying that “the only way to expedite case processing and adjudication is to give each judge a manageable load of 300 cases.”