Corona to continue access to justice by the poor program

June 13, 2010 11:17 pm 

MANILA, June 13 -– Supreme Court (SC) Chief Justice Renato Corona vowed to continue the program and reforms instituted by his predecessor, Chief Justice Reynato Puno, which seeks to provide the marginalized sector with more access to justice.

Corona said he plans to do this by promulgating the Rule on Mandatory Legal Aid Service for Practicing Lawyers, which requires all practicing lawyers to render a minimum number of hours every year of free legal aid to indigents as a pre-condition to their continued good standing.

”Corollarily, the Court likewise approved the Rule on the Exemption from the Payment of Legal Fees of the Clients of the National Committee on Legal Aid (NCLA) and the Legal Aid Offices of the Local Chapters of the Integrated Bar of the Philippines,” Corona stressed.

”Furthermore, cognizant of the adage ‘justice delayed is justice denied’, the Court has gone to great lengths to decongest court dockets and expedite the resolution of cases,” the SC chief further said.

He added that this step is already underway as early as 2008 as the SC, then under the leadership of Chief Justice Puno, promulgated the Rule of Procedure for Small Claims Cases to accelerate the resolution of civil cases involving the poor and the oppressed.

And, in the same vein, in 2009, the SC promulgated the Special Rules of Court on Alternative Dispute Resolution to encourage and promote the use of ADR, specifically arbitration and mediation, as a means to de-clog the dockets of the courts.

”The Court has also literally brought people to justice, and justice to the people, when it launched the Enhanced Justice on Wheels (EJOW) project. By April 2010, these mobile courtrooms have released 3,545 inmates, either because they were acquitted or they had served the maximum penalty for the crimes they were accused of. Also, 5,606 cases have been successfully mediated. Around 2,270 individuals have benefited from free legal aid, and 9,056 inmates have received medical and dental attention,” Corona stressed.

The SC chief also said that he pledged to continue the EJOW program launched by his predecessor, adding that continuation of such project will be part and parcel of his term.

”We launched the EJOW Project in Marikina last week. Before noon, 75 inmates had been released, 130 given medical and dental aid, 50 extended legal assistance, while four out of four cases considered were successfully mediated,” Corona concluded. (PNA)

DCT/PFN

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