Press Release
January 25, 2012

Worried by snail-pace disposition of cases, Drilon seeks
to amend Sandiganbayan law

Alarmed over the snail-pace disposition of cases in the country's anti-graft court, Sen. Frank Drilon has filed a bill seeking to amend the Sandiganbayan Law in order to expedite the delivery of justice in graft and corruption cases.

Drilon filed Senate Bill No. 3099 which seeks to introduce amendments in the proceedings of the Sandiganbayan to address the increasing backlog of cases in that court, created to effectively and swiftly deal with corruption cases involving government workers.

In particular, Drilon said his bill seeks to amend Section 3 of the Sandiganbayan Law which strictly requires the presence of at least three justices before a case and evidence could be heard.

""The existing provision became inapplicable to the present times since the government has expanded and cases filed before them have multiplied over the years, and that provision only contributes to the increasing number of unresolved cases," said Drilon adding that graft cases filed at the Sandiganbayan usually take five to eight years before they are promulgated.

"When you go to the Sandiganbayan, humongous files of unheard and unresolved cases would welcome you. This should be addressed if the government is reforming our justice system," explained Drilon, a former justice secretary who also served as executive secretary and labor secretary during past administrations.

The Sandiganbayan law was twice amended by the virtue of Republic Acts No. 8249 and 7975 that took effect in 1997 and 1995 respectively, Drilon noted.

To address the predicament, Drilon said his bill seeks to capacitate individual justices of the anti-graft court by allowing them to hear and receive evidence in behalf of the division to which he or she belongs. The Sandiganbayan, under the law, is composed of five divisions, with three justices each.

The Drilon bill provides that the justice-in-charge must apprise all members of his or her division of the nature of the case, as well as the developments in the case to aid them in deciding on the fate of the case. Moreover, Drilon pointed out, the bill will further guard the integrity of the court and of the case being heard - while it addresses efficiency - by mandating the three members of the division to jointly decide on the case, after all the evidences have been presented and heard.

In case the division cannot arrive at a unanimous decision, Drilon noted, the presiding justice shall designate by raffle two members for the division to form a division of five. The vote of the majority of such division shall prevail. The division can appoint a member to write the decision in behalf of all its members in order to speed up the process, he said.

"If this arrangement is approved, the public can already expect a speedier resolution of cases filed before the Sandiganbayan and the problem on clogged cases would eventually come to a resolve," Drilon further said.

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