SPEAKER Pantaleon Alvarez on Tuesday pressed for the abolition of the Court of Appeals and suggested other related reforms to speed up the disposition of justice.
Alvarez said the administration’s push for a shift to a federal system of government required structural changes not just in the Executive and Legislative branches of government but also in the Judiciary.
Citing the saying that justice delayed is justice denied, Alvarez said that, under the present system, cases
in the courts took too long to resolve in the level of the trial court alone. After that, the cases might be brought to the Court of Appeals and then to the Supreme Court and take years before a final decision was reached.
“For the sake of our people, let us consider simplifying the process. I propose that the Court of Appeals, unless it can speedily resolve the cases brought to it… be abolished,” Alvarez said in his opening message at the start of the two-day Conference on “Judicial Institution Building and Reforms” at the New World Hotel in Manila.
He said the number of trial courts should be expanded in proportion to the size of the population.
He said the government must invest in the specialization of the trial courts to resolve particular cases and improve the capacity of the judges and staff through management training and further studies so those courts could render speedy and fair judgments.
Alvarez said only the cases as provided for in the Constitution should reach the Supreme Court.
“Let us also work on removing the delaying tactics afforded by the present system to lawyers who abuse the benevolence of the courts,” he said.
He said there were pilot courts in Metro Manila implementing the continuous trial system. Those courts should clear their schedules to focus on finishing a specific number of cases rather than juggle so many cases at the same time.
“This will facilitate the speedy disposition of cases. No more back and forth for witnesses who need to travel from out of town. No more witnesses who, because of old age, are already dead by the time they are called to testify,” Alvarez said.
He said there were risks involved in his proposed abolition of the appellate court, noting that without a Court of Appeals litigants may not have any other remedy against a corrupt trial judge.
To protect the interest of litigants, Alvarez proposed stricter legislation to curb corruption within the ranks of the judiciary.