Drilon sees early passage of bill strengthening Sandiganbayan

February 27, 2014 9:47 am 

MANILA, Feb. 26 -– Senate President Franklin Drilon on Wednesday said the leadership of the Senate and the House of Representatives will meet anew on Monday to discuss priority measures including bill strengthening Sandiganbayan to be passed before sine die adjournment in June this year.

”I will meet with Speaker (Sonny) Belmonte to discuss our legislative agenda and one of them is this bill on Sandiganbayan. Before June, this is a law already,” Drilon said.

Drilon and Senator Aquilino “Koko” Pimentel III introduced on Wednesday Senate Bill 2138 aimed at strengthening the current structure of the Sandiganbayan by decongesting the clogged dockets of the country’s anti-graft court.

”At present, there are 3,000 pending cases in the Sandiganbayan and it has only five judges,” Drilon said.

In his sponsorship speech, Drilon noted that it would take seven years to dispose a graft case at the Sandiganbayan.

”This sorry rate of disposition reflects the heavily clogged dockets of the court, given that the cases filed before it has multiplied over the years. Such a drawn-out process of litigation is injustice itself,” Drilon emphasized.

Under the proposed bill known as the “An Act Further Amending Presidential Decree No. 1606, the concept of “Justice-Designate” will be introduced, allowing one justice to hear receive evidence, and amend the quorum requirement from three justices in a division to two.

Drilon said the bill also seeks to transfer the jurisdiction over “minor cases” to the Regional Trial Courts, and seeks to modify the voting requirement for promulgation of judgment to allow the concurrence of at least two members of a division, instead of three, to render a decision.

“The objective of this bill is to improve the disposition of cases in the Sandiganbayan, our country’s specialized court tasked to effectively and swiftly resolve corruption cases against erring government officials and employees,” Pimentel explained.

Under the bill, an individual member of a division is allowed to hear and receive evidence on behalf of the two other members of his or her division.

The bill also proposes the transfer of jurisdiction over cases that are classified as “minor” to the Regional Trial Courts.

The measure qualifies “minor cases” as those where the information does not allege any damage or bribe; those that allege damage or bribe that are unquantifiable; or those that allege damage or bribe arising from the same or closely related transactions or acts not exceeding P1 million.

Lastly, SBN 2138 seeks to modify the voting requirement for promulgation of judgment, by allowing at least the concurrence of two members to render a judgment.

Under the Section 5 of the Sandiganbayan Law, the unanimous vote of all three members in a division is necessary for the rendition of final order. Failure to reach unanimity shall require the constitution of a special division of five members. (PNA)



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