Press Release
July 10, 2013

Drilon seeks to amend Sandiganbayan law
to address snail-pace disposition of cases

Senator Franklin M. Drilon has filed a bill seeking to amend the Sandiganbayan Law in an effort to ensure the speedy resolution of 2,600 cases currently pending with the anti-graft court.

Senate Bill No. 470, which Drilon filed to address woes over the snail-pace disposition of cases in the country's anti-graft court, seeks to introduce amendments in the proceedings of the Sandiganbayan. Specifically, it proposes 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.

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 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.

He added that litigation of graft cases filed at the Sandiganbayan usually takes five to eight years before they are promulgated. "This delay is intolerable if the war against corruption is to be won."

"Sandiganbayan has been overwhelmed with the humongous files of unheard and unresolved cases. It is imperative that we address the increasing backlog of cases in that court created to effectively and swiftly deal with corruption cases involving government workers," stressed Drilon, a former justice secretary who also served as executive secretary and labor secretary during past administrations.

The Drilon bill provides for a justice-in-charge in every case filed with the anti-graft court who shall monitor and report the developments in the case to the members of his division.

After the case has been submitted for decision, the justice-in-charge will submit a report to the division enough to aid them in deciding on the fate of the case.

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. 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.

In case the division cannot arrive at a unanimous decision, Drilon noted, the presiding justice shall designate by raffle two special members for the division to form a division of five. The vote of the majority of such division shall prevail.

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

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