Press Release
December 4, 2013

Ambush interview of Senate President Franklin Drilon

SPFMD: The Committee on Justice and Human Rights will report the amendments to the Sandiganbayan, which are basically for the speedier disposition of the cases. The justices reported that there are at least 3,000 pending cases while in effect there are only five trial courts. What we will do is to allow any one of the three justices to receive the evidence. So that in effect, instead of only five courts - by allowing an individual justice to hear the case the case- we will have an additional of ten courts, making fifteen courts in all. But I must underscore the fact that the decisions must be conferred in by the majority of the three justices. Judgments must have the approval of all three, so that the decision of the two can be valid. These are for future cases, and not the existing cases.

Q: How much will this reduce the backlog?

SPFMD: It will hasten the resolution of the cases. We hope in a short period, the backlog will be addressed. Because in effect, you will be adding ten more judges. Right now there are about 600 cases per division led by a division of three. Now you can divide these 600 cases by three, so on average an individual justice will receive 200 cases instead of the usual 600.

Q: Acceptable po ba yung case load per justice na 1 per 200 cases?

SPFMD: Yes that is acceptable.

Q: On the joint resolution for the extending the 2013 calamity funds

SPFMD: Yes, the joint resolution was passed last night with a vote of 12-0-1 abstention. What happened now is that there were items in the budget originally in the maintenance and operating portions of the budget that will not be used up to the end of the year, what we did is we extended the authority up to December 31, 2014. Then, the President would have the power to augment now the calamity fund from this unutilized budget.

Q: Can the President delegate that power to his rehab czar?

SPFMD: I think it needs the approval of the President. My view is that the Constitution says that the approval of the budgeting must be exercised by the President so it cannot be questioned. Nonetheless, I take a conservative position -the President cannot delegate the power to realign items in the budget, or augment the budget, because that is a power lodged to the President as an elected official.

Q: On the bill for the P14.6 billion supplement budget

SPFMD: We are waiting to receive the version of the House. That has to come from them. I am not sure if we have received them already.

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