New bill to produce 150 new judges

Noting that it is high time that the country invests in its justice system which is important in enabling and ennobling Filipinos, Senator Richard J. Gordon called on his colleagues to support proposed measures calling for the creation of judges-at-large positions.

"We have been investing heavily in infrastructure--roads, bridges, airports, schools, and the like. It is high time we invest in our judges and in the justice system. It is high time for the government to add judges where statistics clearly prove they are needed. Courts are deeply embedded in every aspect of our country's society, economy and governance. They are very important in enabling and ennobling the lives of our countrymen," he said in sponsoring Senate Bill No. 2065 under Committee Report No. 496.

As of June 30, 2018, the number of pending cases totaled 178,582, which makes the caseload for trial courts way above what the Supreme Court considers as manageable, which is 300 for second level courts (regional trial courts) and 500 for first level courts such as municipal trial courts and metropolitan trial courts. Since there are 2,663 judges of first level and second level courts in the country, there is therefore one trial court judge per 37,927 Filipinos.

Gordon pointed out that there is a need for the proposed creation of 150 judges-at-large positions (100 for regional trial courts and 50 for municipal trial courts) because the quality of justice is adversely affected by the congestion of our courts' dockets since judges no longer have sufficient time to study, analyze and research to come up with good, reasonable decisions.

"This is an astounding statistic stressing one of the problems in our country: there are not enough courts or judges to meet the demands of our countrymen. Not just that our judiciary play catch-up with the current caseload, but we want to be ahead. 'Justice delayed is justice denied.' We cannot wait for Godot," he said.

The chairman of the Committee on Justice and Human Rights also noted that de-clogging court dockets will help decongest jails, which are currently facing a congestion rate of 114%. Bureau of Correction facilities has a total capacity of 19,268 prisoners, but has an inmate population of 41,258.

SBN 2065 proposes to amend Batas Pambansa Bilang 129, otherwise known as "The Judiciary Reorganization Act of 1980," to create the positions of judges-at-large. The said bill is a substitute for Gordon's SBN 2002 and two other similar bills - SBN 1681 and 1691.

SOURCE: INVEST IN JUDGES, RP'S JUSTICE SYSTEM - GORDON. Senate of the Philippines. Press Release. November 24, 2018.