MOVING to ensure speedy disposition of all pending cases and decongest prisons and detention centers, Senator Raffy T. Tulfo urged the Judiciary to create more courts and expand its pool of judges nationwide.
For a start, the senator suggests “the Judiciary should immediately assess places with insufficient number of judges and court houses to address clogging of court dockets that could help in swiftly dispensing justice to poor and innocent individuals rotting in jail pending trial of their cases.”
Tulfo was quoted in a statement issued last Wednesday as saying there are many inmates in city jails who were wrongly accused of crimes they did not commit or were merely used as fall guy by erring authorities.
The lawmaker said “countless of innocent inmates are languishing in city jails, ginamit na fall guy at napagtripan dahil mahirap at walang pampiyansa [used as a fall guy and tripped because he was poor and can’t afford bail].”
Tulfo added that “overwhelmed din sa kaso ang mga korte kaya kapag nadesisyunan, ilang taon na ang lumipas at ilang taon na ring nagdusa ang biktima. [The courts are also overwhelmed with cases, so when a decision is made, several years have passed and the victim has suffered for several years.]”
DEPLORING that “this is anti-poor,” Tulfo said he is moving to introduce remedial legislation to check the anomaly.
“I am proposing a bill na ’yung mga awtoridad na nagtanim ng ebidensya at sinadyang makulong ang inosenteng akusado ay maparusahan nang kasing-bigat ng kinaso nila sa kanilang biktima. Dapat ay mabigyan din ang inosenteng biktima ng compensation mula sa gobyerno para sa ilang taong pagdurusa nila sa kulungan! [I am proposing a bill that the authorities who planted evidence and intentionally imprison the innocent accused will be punished as severely as they charged their victim. The innocent victim should also be given compensation from the government for the years they suffered in jail.]”
At a recent public hearing of the Committee of Justice and Human Rights, jointly with the Public Information and Mass Media and Finance last Tuesday, Tulfo cited the nagging problems in the shortage of courts and judges in the country, contributing to the “slow Philippine justice system greatly affecting the poor who do not have capacity to post bail.”
In the same hearing, he recalled Court Administrator Raul B. Villanueva confirming there are roughly 1,100 court houses and halls of justice all over the country, but only 400 of which are owned by the Supreme Court (SC). The remaining ones are owned by local government units (LGUs).
DURING his turn, Tulfo conveyed strong reservation on having court houses owned by LGUs, especially when they are also the ones purchasing furniture and appliances for the court, including electric fans and air conditioning units. He noted that “such practice leaves judges indebted to politicians and, thus, affecting judicial independence,” reminding that all courts should be owned and managed by the SC.
Sen. Emmanuel Joel J. Villanueva agreed and stressed the need for enough budgetary support.
“Dapat mabigyan ng karagdagang budget ang [SC] para magkaroon ito ng autonomy at independence na magpatayo ng mga korte ng judges. Dahil sa kakulangan ng budget ng korte, ang LGU ang nagpo-provide ng ibang gamit tulad ng aircon, furniture at electronic device para dito, kaya nagkakaroon ng utang na loob ang mga judges sa mga politiko na nagiging untouchables.” [The SC should be given an additional budget so that it has the autonomy and independence to set up judges’ courts. Due to the lack of budget of the court, the LGU provides other things such as air conditioner, furniture and electronic devices for it, so the judges become indebted to the politicians who become untouchables,]” he added.
Earlier, Tulfo questioned the Department of Budget and Management’s consistent cuts on the recommended budget of the Judicial department during the budget deliberation at the Senate, even recommending its budget increase for 2023 to also help with its modernization and digitization.