Press Release
January 11, 2020

Bong Go files bill creating more Court of Appeals divisions; seeks for faster and improved justice system

Amid cases piling up and dockets getting clogged, Senator Christopher Lawrence "Bong" Go recently filed a bill that would provide for the creation of additional divisions of the Court of Appeals and appointment of additional justices to help the Judiciary in providing a more reliable, unbiased and swift delivery of justice in the country.

Amending the Batas Pambansa Bilang 129, the bill states that from the current sixty-nine Court of Appeals justices, an additional nine more magistrates will be appointed by the President. This proposal totals to seventy eight justices.

"There is hereby created a Court of Appeals which shall consist of a Presiding Justice and seventy-seven (77) Associate Justices who shall be appointed by the President of the Philippines," according to Senate Bill 1253 or the "Act Creating Additional Divisions in the Court of Appeals, Increasing the Number of Court of Appeals Justices from Sixty-Nine (69) to Seventy-Eight (78), Amending for the Purpose Batas Pambansa Bilang 129, as Amended, Otherwise Known as the Judiciary Reorganization Act of 1980, Appropriating Funds Therefor, and for Other Purposes."

In his explanatory note, Go said that in order to enforce and protect fundamental rights, "a strong and efficient Judiciary is essential." The senator also mentioned that the Judiciary must be steadfast in fulfilling its role in administering justice.

Yet with the current situation the Court of Appeals is facing, such as delays in decisions and resolution of cases because of clogged dockets caused by a great number of cases being handled by current number of justices, the appellate court is in need of restructuring.

Go said that this current dilemma of the Court of Appeals jeopardizes the fulfillment of the court's mandate resulting to fixing the problem internally instead of addressing it through a legislative act.

"These problems cause inevitable delays in deciding and resolving cases, diluting the public's confidence and trust in the country's justice system. In this regard, the Court of Appeals, as the country's foremost appellate court, has been instituting internal measures to alleviate the problem," the senator emphasized.

"The Legislative must not leave it to the Judiciary to fix the problem, as it takes an inter-departmental effort to properly address it. These additional members and divisions will enable the Court of Appeals to handle its case load in a more efficient manner," Go said in the note.

The filing of the bill comes after the senator lamented the snail-paced judicial system in the country on which he aired in an interview last month after the Quezon City Regional Trial Court handed down the ruling on the decade-old Maguindanao massacre.

In past interviews, the senator expressed that the Maguindanao massacre case took 10 long years before victims were given justice after finding Andal Ampatuan Jr. and together with several of his relatives and primary suspects, guilty of multiple accounts of murder, and were sentenced to reclusion perpetua without parole.

"Finally, after ten long years, nabigyan na ng hustisya, hindi lamang ang pamilya Mangudadatu kundi ang pamilya ng mga media at bystanders na nadamay sa krimen. Gayunpaman, ako'y nalulungkot sa napakatagal na justice system sa ating bansa. Bakit kailangang umabot ng sampung taon para bigyan ng hustisya kung kaya naman na dalawang taon," Go said adding that in crimes like these, justice must be given immediately.

The senator also said in previous statements that because of the slow justice system in the country, Filipinos are left with no choice but to seek help from the President.

"Hindi ko masisisi ang mga Pilipino na tumatakbo sa Pangulo para humingi ng hustisya. Dahil minsan ay nawawalan sila ng pag-asa sa napakabagal na justice system natin sa bansa," Go said.

With the proposed measure, the bill seeks to add three more divisions of the Court of Appeals, each with three members. The bill also listed down the proposed permanent stations of the courts.

The first seventeen divisions will be stationed in Manila for cases coming from the Third to the Fifth Judicial Regions, while the next three divisions will be stationed in Cebu for cases coming from the Sixth to Eighth Judicial Regions.

Divisions Twenty-First to Twenty-Third will be posted in Cagayan de Oro City for cases coming from the Ninth and Tenth Judicial Regions, and the Twenty-Fourth Division will be in Vigan City which will deal cases from the First and Second Judicial Regions.

Lastly, the Twenty-Fifth and Twenty-Sixth Divisions will be positioned in Davao City for cases coming from the Eleventh and Twelfth Judicial Regions.

In addition to these proposed provisions, the bill also states that the Court of Appeals must hold continuous trials and hearings and, "must be completed within three (3) months unless extended by the Chief Justice of the Supreme Court."

The senator hopes for a faster and more efficient judiciary system in the country. With the filed bill, he looks forward to many cases being resolved promptly and that justice will be served especially to the Filipinos who seek it the most.

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