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Sharia courts: Then and now

In Photo: This file photo shows Filipino Muslims near the Golden Mosque in Quiapo, Manila. Court Administrator Jose Midas Marquez said there is a need to create Sharia courts in areas where there is a high concentration of Muslims, like Manila.

Part Two

ACCORDING to the Office of the Court Administrator (OCA), decisions of the Sharia district courts may be brought before the Supreme Court (SC) by way of civil action.

This process is cited by Rule 65 of the Rules of Court and undertaken if there is question of jurisdiction, or petitions for review on certiorari, as a mode of appeal.

The OCA said this is in line with Article 145 of Presidential Decree (PD) 1083, which does not alter the original and appellate court jurisdiction of the SC as provided in the Constitution.

The decision of the Sharia appellate court, on the other hand, is considered final and executory unless it would affect the original and appellate jurisdiction of the SC. Data obtained from the Court Management Office (CMO) of the OCA showed 29 is the average number of cases decided by the Sharia district court for the past 10 years (2007 to 2016). For the Sharia courts, the average number of cases decided is 402 for the same period.

The year 2007 was recorded to have the most number of cases decided by the district courts, totaling to 43 for the period 2007 to 2016, while the year 2013 has the least number of cases decided with only 12.

Case number

IN 2016 district courts resolved 20 cases, while the year before that it was 33 cases decided. Decided cases in 2014 hit 38, while there were 131 resolved cases in 2012, as well as in 2011. Decided cases in 2010 were 29, while there were 21 resolved cases in 2010, 21 resolved cases in 2009 and 29 decided cases in 2008.

For the circuit courts, the year 2016 recorded the most number of decided cases with 643, while the year 2007 has the least decided cases with 201. In 2015 circuit courts resolved 620 cases; 495 in 2014; 371 in 2013; 371 in 2012; 594 in 2012; 442 in 2011; 208 in 2010; 242 in 2009; and 202 in 2008.

As of May 8, the total number of pending cases recorded by the CMO-OCA for the Sharia District Courts is 91, while for the circuit courts, the total number of pending cases is 883. The data also showed that the average number of cases filed in the Sharia district courts for the past 10 years, or from 2007 to 2016, is 46.

On the other hand, the average number of cases being filed before circuit courts is 519 for the same period. In 2016 53 cases were filed before district court; 35 cases in 2015; 42 cases in 2014; 24 cases in 2013; 33 cases in 2012; 57 cases in 2011; 84 cases in 2010; 60 cases in 2009; 43 cases in 2008; and 26 cases in 2007.

Case input

THE number of cases filed before circuit courts in 2016 totaled to 748; 706 cases in 2015; 804 in 2014; 607 in 2013; 687 in 2012; 419 in 2011; 352 in 2010; 334 in 2009;
290 in 2008; and 246 in 2007.

Reports from the Statistical Reports Division through Data Compilation of the SC showed that for the period of January 2014 to April 2015, a total of case input of 411,789 cases were from various courts.

Case input for judicial cases includes newly filed cases, revived or reopened cases, and cases received from other salas or courts.

The total case input for Sharia circuit courts for the said period reached 638, while Sharia district courts recorded 42 as compared to regional trial courts with 220,563. The total case input for metropolitan trial courts for the said period reached 74,297, while municipal trial courts in Cities recorded 75,110. The total case input for municipal trial courts reached 23,095 and municipal circuit trial courts with 18,135.

Case output

On the other hand, the total case output reached 391,523 out of 411,879 total case input.

Case output for judicial cases include decided or resolved cases, archived cases and cases transferred to other salas or courts.

The case output for Sharia circuit courts reached 452 out of 638 for the same period while case output of Sharia district court totaled to 40.

Thus, the percentage disposal of the Sharia district court was 95.24 percent, while Sharia circuit courts had 70.85 percent case disposal.

“Considering that most of the cases filed before the Sharia courts are lodged with the Sharia circuit courts, the nature of cases commonly filed are civil in nature,” Court Administrator Jose Midas Marquez said.

Among these civil cases pertains to marriage, divorce, breach of contract to marry; customary dower, disposition and distribution of property upon divorce; maintenance and support, and consolatory gifts; and restitution of marital rights.

Marquez, however, said regular courts are still allowed to handle cases involving Muslim personal laws, particularly, in places were there are no Sharia courts.

“Regular courts can take cognizance of cases filed before it, but laws applied are general laws,” Marquez explained.

More needed

MEANWHILE, Marquez lamented that the existing number of Sharia courts are not sufficient to efficiently handle and resolve disputes involving Muslim personal laws.

He said more Sharia courts are need to be established in other parts of the country, citing in particular Manila, Taguig, Baguio City and other areas where there are large Muslim population.

“There is a need to create Sharia courts in areas where there is a high concentration of Muslims,” Marquez said.

He added that a legislation is necessary in order to put up more Sharia courts as this would entail necessary funding.

“Yes, legislation is needed to create Sharia courts. Kasi ang kaunti ng kaso, [The number of cases is too small],” he lamented. “Waste of government funds if we organize the court, tapos walang kaso.” [It would be a waste of government funds if we organize the court and then there is no case].”

To be continued

Image credits: Alysa Salen

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