SC further improves in 2021 with a liquidation rate of 110%

Supreme Court (File photo)

MANILA – The Supreme Court (CS) has ruled on a record number of cases this year – more than new cases filed – for a resolution rate of 110 percent, according to data provided by the Office of the Court Clerk en banc and the division clerk on Tuesday.

There were 3,603 new cases and one reinstatement filed, but the SC was successful in resolving 3,975 cases, including those in the backlog.

The SC also resolved 1,176 administrative and prohibition cases out of 1,116 new cases for a resolution rate of 105 percent.

SC’s clearance rate last year was 95 percent.

“The 110% clearance rate posted by the SC for 2021 is a ray of light in a year that has been marred by work suspensions, limited travel and restrictions due to the pandemic, and speaks volumes. on the strength of the Court to remain true to its commitment to serving the nation and its people, ”Chief Justice Alexander Gesmundo said in a statement.

When he took office in April, Gesmundo stressed that he would focus on two things: decongesting court records and making the judiciary technology-driven.

“I have decided to rule on all petitions, cases or cases which have been brought before the Supreme Court after April 5, 2021, strictly within the period of 24 months from the date of submission in accordance with section 15 (1 ), Article VIII of the 1987 Constitution, and to strictly observe the requirements of the proper exercise of its power of judicial review ”, he declared at the time.

Anti-terrorism law

The year also saw the SC resolve a number of controversial cases, including more than three dozen lawsuits challenging Republic Act (RA) 11479 of the Anti-Terrorism Act.

The High Court said that, apart from parts of Articles 4 and 25, all of the other contested provisions of RA 11479 are constitutional.

Article 4 deals with the exclusion of mass actions and the similar exercise of civil and political rights from the definition of terrorism, while Article 25 deals with requests by foreign agencies to designate persons or organizations. as terrorists.

Petition vs PRRD policy on the territory

In June, the SC also asserted the presidential prerogative to choose the best path forward to deal with territorial disputes with other countries, particularly in the Western Philippine Sea (WPS).

In a nine-page decision by Deputy Judge Rodil Zalameda, the High Court dismissed “for complete lack of merit” the petition of lawyer Romeo Esmero, who accused President Rodrigo Duterte of “inaction / failure” to exercise his powers. functions related to WPS. dispute with China.

Esmero said filing diplomatic protests against China is “no defense,” saying the right way for the Philippines to act is to ask the United Nations to send patrol boats, to sue China in front of the International Court of Justice (ICJ) and to demand payment and damages for the capture of the island of Kalayaan.

The SC said that there is no law that justifies the action called for by the petition for the president to go to the UN or the ICJ to sue China and that there is no law that specifically prescribes how the president must respond to any threat from another state.

The SC noted that a ruling in the case against China before the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea was rendered on July 12, 2016, but “if President Duterte now deems it appropriate to take a different approach with China despite the decisions, this does not mean that it has illegally abdicated its duty to protect and defend our national territory ”.

“As head of state, he is free to use his own discretion in this matter, being responsible only to his country in its political character and to his own conscience,” added the court.

Legal education requirements clarified

In November, the SC upheld the jurisdiction of the Legal Education Board (LEB) but ruled as unconstitutional its requirement that students must pass the Philippine Law School (PhiLSAT) Entrance Test before being allowed to pursue studies in law.

The SC overturned in its entirety the LEB Memorandum Order (LEBMO) No. 7-2016 on the PhiLSAT requirement to be “unreasonable exclusion, restriction and qualification”.

The Court explained that LEB’s requirement for potential students to take the PhiLSAT does not in itself make it unconstitutional as long as the results are only recommendations, with law schools retaining the discretion to accept the candidate on the basis of basis of their policies and standards.

However, as a condition of eligibility, PhilSAT is not a legal method to reach the legal subject of the state.

The ruling upheld the 2019 ruling, which declared paragraph 9 of the LEBMO unconstitutional, which states that all university graduates or graduate students must pass the PhiLSAT in order to be admitted to law school in the Philippines.

A group of indigenous people take a break

Earlier this year, the SC ruled on a petition challenging the conviction of members of an indigenous peoples group based in Mindoro for violating Article 77 of Presidential Decree No. 705 of the Revised Forest Code of the Philippines. .

The SC acquitted the group on January 5, ruling that the Iraya-Mangyan tribe is a publicly known indigenous cultural community that may inhabit areas within Oriental Mindoro.

The case arises out of an incident in March 2005 in Barangay Calangatan, San Teodoro Municipality, Oriental Mindoro, when the IP group, without authorization, knowingly cut down a dita tree with a total volume of 500 board feet.

In defense, they said that the dita tree is planted in their ancestral domain and that they cut it down to build a community toilet as instructed by their leaders.

What to expect

In 2022 and beyond, Gesmundo said the country’s courts must be “always effective and responsible refuges for the disadvantaged, the injured, the injured”.

Reforms are also needed to keep pace with the changing times.

“The Filipino people deserve a judicial system with competence, integrity, probity and independence,” he said. (ANP)

James C. Tibbs