MANILA, Philippines – After naming a communicator, Chief Justice Maria Lourdes Sereno has designated a Quezon City regional trial court judge as a new “briefer” on judicial reforms on Tuesday, September 11.
Sereno named Quezon City Regional Trial Judge Filomena Singh as a “briefer” on programs being implemented in the lower courts. Singh was awarded the Judicial Excellence in 2009 as a municipal trial court judge.
Singh’s designation came after Sereno first assigned deputy court administrator Raul Villanueva as a “communicator” for judicial reforms on September 4.
Villanueva clarified that even as they have been assigned to discuss judicial reforms with the media, it is still the Public Information Office that will release decisions and resolutions.
Sereno previously said that she will form a “communication unit” in the Supreme Court.
She has extended the appointment of acting Supreme Court spokeswoman Ma. Victoria Gleoresty S.P. Guerra and other staff of the PIO until October 31, though, without prejudice to their re-appointment.
The PIO staff are co-terminus with the chief justice. Guerra became acting spokeswoman when Justice Antonio Carpio became acting chief justice in June. (Carpio took over after Chief Justice Renato Corona was removed by the Senate sitting as an impeachment court on May 29.)
Sereno can chose to re-appoint the PIO staff or not. The PIO cannot be dissolved, however, because it was created through a resolution.
Reforms in QC RTC
Singh said that reforms implemented in the QC RTC included the rule of procedure for small claims cases, where cases involving claims not exceeding P100,000 are resolved after conducting a hearing within a day. The decisions are unappealable.
Out of 19, 463 small claims filed in 2011, a total of 15,550 were disposed of or a “rate of 79.9%,” Singh said. As of July 2012, a total of 7,848 small claims cases have been disposed out of 8,809 cases, or a disposal rate of 89.4%.
Singh also discussed the guidelines for litigation in QC trial courts, which mandate shorter timelines for arraignment and specify that postponement of hearings could only be justified in the face of natural disasters, or similar “acts of God.”
Another innovation is the judicial affidavit rule, which is expected to cut trial time by 50%.
Witnesses will now be asked to submit judicial affidavits, which are sworn statements in a question-and-answer form. The affidavit will contain the following: name of witness, name of the lawyer who took the testimony, a statement that the witness is answered questions under oath and that he may be held criminally liable for false testimony or perjury. – Rappler.com
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