Inmates freed after marathon hearings in 5 cities
MANILA, Philippines – Trial courts in key cities in the Philippines conducted marathon hearings on Tuesday, June 18, in a bid to sort out cases that could be ripe for dismissal and thus decongest the jails.
The activity, dubbed as “Judgment Day,” was led by Supreme Court (SC) Administrator Jose Midas Marquez in Manila.
Part of the activities and events held by the SC in connection to its 112th anniversary, it aimed to expedite the resolution of cases in the trial courts and decongest densely populated jails.
Marquez said the courts would look “not [into] the nature of the [suspects'] case but more into what happened and how long each case has been on trial.”
He continued: “For example, it’s just a minor offense and it’s been 5 times since the [hearing] has been re-set because the private complainant did not appear, the case may be decided for provisional dismissal.”
Aside from Manila, the event was simultaneously conducted in Quezon City, Angeles City, Cebu City, and Davao City. These cities were identified by the Bureau of Jail Management and Penology (BJMP) to “have the highest inmate population” in the Philippines.
In the city of Manila, where the jail has been home to more than 3,000 inmates, 115 cases were heard on Tuesday. In 75 of the cases, the judges decided to release the inmates on Tuesday afternoon.
GMA News Online reported that 68 cases were heard in Angeles City, with 43 inmates also ordered released. In Cebu City, 12 inmates were reportedly freed.
Marquez said that if trial courts ordered the acquittal of an inmate, “by afternoon or tomorrow [they can be freed].”
He said inmates who are also in need of proper medical attention “will get necessary order from the judge.”
On June 14, Chief Justice Maria Lourdes Sereno led the launch of the Quezon City eCourt program to also “[put] an end to human intermediation in raffling and docketing of cases.”
The eCourt project featured “a computer-based system designed to enable trial court judges, court personnel, and officers to organize, plan, and control the flow of the case from filing to resolution and enforcement.”
The project has been undertaken by the Supreme Court, through the Office of the Court Administrator, with assistance from the American Bar Association-Rule of Law Initiative and the United States Agency for International Development.
Marquez said the SC chose the Quezon City courts as pilot site of the eCourt for their “efficiency and competency.” – Rappler.com