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Chief Justice highlights judicial reforms

Often criticized for its turtle-paced rate of case dissolution and clandestine practices, the justice system recently claimed that it has finally adapted new technological innovations and hired additional personnel aimed at speeding up court processes, decongesting the backlog of unsolved cases, and gaining the confidence of the public.Embattled Supreme Court Chief Justice Maria Lourdes Sereno announced the utmost importance for the implementation of such judicial reforms since “the rule of law is synonymous

Embattled Supreme Court Chief Justice Maria Lourdes Sereno announced the utmost importance for the implementation of such judicial reforms since “the rule of law is synonymous with economic development as it provides the proper environment and security for the long-term.”

She reiterated that the reforms are essential for economic prosperity in order for the rule of law to be implemented for the citizens to follow and for the government to be held accountable for its actions.

Court decongestion

Among the programs the Chief Justice is overseeing is “Hustisyeah” (Justice yeah), which is aimed at unclogging the decongestion if the cases in the courts wherein judges have a staggering average of 2,000 cases yet to be resolved.

As the keynote speaker during the Mandaue Chamber of Commerce and Industry Business Summit, Sereno relayed that the program was first implemented in Quezon City to make an inventory of the files and implement a management plan for the judges.

“Result is a 30 percent reduction in case dockets,” she claimed. “This was through the deployment of 635 Court Decongestion Officers (CDOs) in the person of various law graduates and contractuals throughout the country to assist the courts and their personnel. And they have performed admirably,” she announced proudly.A total of 81 CDOs have been assigned to the 175 courts based in Central Visayas covering

A total of 81 CDOs have been assigned to the 175 courts based in Central Visayas covering the cities and provinces of Cebu, Bohol, Negros Oriental, and Siquijor. According to Sereno, the result has been a 22.13 percent reduction of cases in the month of August 2017 alone.In Cebu City and province, a total of 32,560 out of 51,825 cases were disposed of. For Cebu City alone, the speaker pointed out that 11,716 out of 40,231 were declared as priority cases, of which 5,767 (49.2 percent) were solved.

In Cebu City and province, a total of 32,560 out of 51,825 cases were disposed of. For Cebu City alone, the speaker pointed out that 11,716 out of 40,231 were declared as priority cases, of which 5,767 (49.2 percent) were solved.

There are also assisting courts and assisting judges wherein the plantilla of one court helps another. An example here is how the staff of a court in Cebu helps the staff of a  ourt in Mandaue City, resulting in the movement of 2,957 cases nationwide, which was formerly left idle.

Other programs

Sereno also spoke of the systems realignment and improved setup where speedy trials are held on a continuous basis minus the usual six-month gaps between court appearances. A total of 58 volunteer judges head this arrangement.“It is quite wrong for suspects to undergo undue and prolonged detention with regard to their cases. Many innocent parties have undergone unnecessary detention and have turned out worse due to bad company. Decisions

“It is quite wrong for suspects to undergo undue and prolonged detention with regard to their cases. Many innocent parties have undergone unnecessary detention and have turned out worse due to bad company. Decisions are promulgated from case submission within 90 days or less,” she affirmed.Another program is the E-JOP or the Electronic Justice on Wheels Program where trials are conducted on makeshift courtrooms inside large buses to maximize efficiency and accessibility instead of having the parties travel

Another program is the E-JOP or the Electronic Justice on Wheels Program where trials are conducted on makeshift courtrooms inside large buses to maximize efficiency and accessibility instead of having the parties travel for long hours.“The mediation process has also played a part in the reduction of cases,” explained the Chief Justice. “A total of 8,300 cases have undergone

“The mediation process has also played a part in the reduction of cases,” explained the Chief Justice. “A total of 8,300 cases have undergone the process since 2014, resulting in 2,138 decisions and the release of 9,217 prisoners.”

Licensed mediators who do not require a law background have also played a large part in the unclogging of court dockets where opposing parties try to reach an amicable settlement instead of slugging it out through prolonged and expensive court hearings.

Another innovation is the Enterprise Information System Plan (EISP). This five-year master plan aims to e-connect over 2,000 courts nationwide. Features include the e-Courts for Public Confidence and Transparency, which has already conducted 24 trainings, and 159 automated hearings in 274 courts.

The Mandaue Business Summit is the highlight of the Mandaue Business Month (MBM), which is held every August. The MBM is composed of a series of events and projects geared towards promoting sustainable and socially responsible entrepreneurship positioning Mandaue City to be an attractive destination for business and investments.

 

By RICHARD RAMOS

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