The Department of Justice (DOJ) has vowed to resolve by yearend around 26,000 petitions for review arising from the resolutions of city and provincial prosecutors nationwide.
“Our target is to finish everything at the end of this year. We are doing something about it,” Justice Secretary Jesus Crispin Remulla said in a press conference.
Remulla disclosed that there is an ongoing audit to determine which of these cases have been decided in courts, already dismissed, undergoing trial, or are still being pursued by the persons who filed the petitions for review.
“We will ask all the prosecutors on duty here to help us finish these cases so we can start with a clean slate,” he said.
“That is the target, to start with a clean slate and be up to date again,” he added.
According to him, once the pending cases are resolved, “step two would probably be a very radical one.”
“We would archive everything and tell those who are still interested in pursuing their petition for reviews to file one more pleading,” he said.
“We will publish this in the newspaper telling them our intention and what they can file so we can still look for your cases to be reviewed,” he added.
Remulla noted that since he assumed the DOJ portfolio last July 1, there has been no backlogs on cases involving petitions for review.
“We have acted on every case submitted to us on petition for review since we arrived,” he said.
During the press conference, Justice Undersecretary Raul Vasquez explained that reforms have been undertaken to simplify the appeals process.
Vasquez cited Department Circular No. 27, series of 2022, which states that “the cases that would be elevated to the Office of the Secretary would be limited to cases that are cognizable by the regional trial courts.”
“While, we have empowered the regional state prosecutors and the prosecutor general as regional state prosecutor for Metro Manila to render decisions with finality on appeals relating to cases cognizable by the metropolitan trial court,” he said.
He said the current rule on appeals requires “the creation of a prosecution integrity board similar to the Judicial Integrity Board to ensure that the prosecutors who have been empowered with greater responsibilities on appeals would do their job well and to ensure that fair play will always govern all resolution of cases.”
For his part, Undersecretary Jesse Hermogenes Andres said;“We have already constituted a team to make sure that the 60-day period allowed by the courts for us to act on the petition for review will be done within that period.”
“Right now, all petitions for review that are addressed by this office will be resolved within that 60-day period or much earlier,” he said.