De Lima: Amending rules of court to speed up justice
MANILA, Philippines---In an effort to speed up the delivery of justice, the Supreme Court is considering amendments to the rules of court, among them, allowing a judge to have greater participation in the litigation process and requiring higher standards of evidence before a suspect can be indicted.
Justice Secretary Leila de Lima told reporters “the Supreme Court is seriously considering the revision of rules and coming up with proposals on how to address the serious problem of case congestion, which is one of the primary problems of our justice system.”
She said the new rules would only have to be promulgated by the Supreme Court en banc and would not need to be legislated. She said the amendments could be in place “within the year.”
The secretary said the subcommittee particularly sought the Department of Justice’s opinion on reverting to the “prima facie standard” and abandoning the “probable cause rule” when public prosecutors file cases in the lower courts.
“Probable cause is such a low standard, and has been in effect for the past 30 years. In effect, it’s easy to file a case in court based on probable cause, although it’s not sure if a trial would prosper,” she said.
De Lima said cases often lag in the trial courts because prosecutors request for postponements as they search for viable evidence. In the meantime, the accused endures lengthy incarceration while complainants suffer a delay in justice.
This system has caused “so much delay,” she said. The committee is studying the European-style “inquisitorial” system, wherein hearings are limited and the judges can directly interrogate the accuser and the accused.
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