JUSTICE Secretary Jesus Crispin Remulla has vowed to introduce more reforms to improve the country’s judicial system, particularly in the conduct of investigation and prosecution of crimes.
Part of these reforms was Remulla’s issuance last Tuesday of Department of Justice (DOJ) Circular No. 011 that puts cap on the bail amount for indigents facing criminal court proceedings except for crimes punishable by death, reclusion perpetua or life imprisonment.
The new circular, which took effect immediately, will cut into half any bail bond amount being implemented by prosecutors based on the 2018 Bail Bond Guide and will put a cap on the bail amount P10,000 for qualified indigents.
Under the DOJ guidelines on the recommendation of bail amounts in criminal information, if the person undergoing preliminary investigation or inquest proceedings claims to be indigent and has no record of being delinquent or recidivist, he or she is required to submit certificates of indigency from the Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD) and from the chairperson of his or her barangay.
Remulla said he expects the new circular to significantly decongest the country’s jail and detention facilities when implemented along with Department Circular No. 008-A, which was issued last February 10.
The circular compels prosecutors to only file cases with “reasonable certainty of conviction” based on material evidence and witnesses.
Prior to this, investigating prosecutors recommend the filing of criminal cases against respondents in criminal cases upon the finding of probable cause.
The DOJ said the filing of weak cases contributes to the congestion problem in jails and detention facilities.
“There are other reforms that we will be implementing within the next few weeks concerning our judicial system,” Remulla said.
He also disclosed ongoing discussions to establish the so-called case build-up rule where prosecutors are allowed to leave their offices and go with the police during evidence gathering and interview of witnesses.
The DOJ secretary said the set-up is similar to the US District Attorney (DA) system.
“Actually, our aim here is similar to the DA system. It’s more like a blue-collar job since there is really a need for the prosecutor to go out of the office to personally see the crime scene, talk to the people to ensure that you have strong basis to file a case,” the DOJ chief explained.
Remulla stressed that the filing of cases should not be treated as a contest among policemen on who has the highest number of cases filed in courts but rather to ensure that cases filed have enough basis to secure a conviction of the accused.
Prior to this, Remulla announced that around 35 medical doctors and several prosecutors will be part of a class that will undergo training in the field of forensic pathology and investigative work in relation to wrongful death cases.
The training class will be part of the forensic program that United Nations Special Rapporteur on extrajudicial, summary or arbitrary executions Dr. Morris Tidball-Binz is expected to launch upon his return to the country either in May or August.
Dr. Morris Tidball-Binz visited the country last February 6 to February 9 to help capacitate Filipino doctors and enhance their practice to achieve international standard practices, particularly in conducting autopsies.
Remulla admitted that forensic pathology is one of the important things that have been neglected in the part under the legal system.
The training, according to Remulla, will ultimately boost the government’s capacity to handle and probe cases of wrongful or untimely deaths.