News & Media

GOJUST Supports Training on New Guidelines for Continuous Trial of Criminal Cases

April 10, 2018

“The Lower Courts account for a majority of the justice system’s total caseload with more than 600,000 cases pending in dockets each year for the past decade. Criminal cases comprise about 77% of cases filed and pending in trial courts. On top of these overwhelming figures, perennial problem of delays and docket congestion remain unabated. The tragic results of these problems are undeniable: the administration of justice is impaired, the right of the accused to speedy trial is denied, subhuman conditions pervade in detention jails, and people lose faith in the justice system.”

Towards a Faster, More Responsive Justice System

Robert Francis Garcia

With more than 600,000 cases pending in Philippine courts each year for the past decade, the European Union provides technical assistance in the justice sector to help address the issue of court congestion and delays. Part of this assistance is through supporting initiatives that hasten legal processes, such as capacity building for justice sector stakeholders.

Training Seminars on the Revised Guidelines for Continuous Trial of Criminal Cases were conducted for first level courts in judicial regions 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 8, 9, 10, 11 and 12. The training is part of “a lecture series aimed to develop the skills of judges for the efficient adjudication of cases, and to teach them valuable trial techniques to dispose of pending incidents within the period required by pertinent laws and rules of procedure,” explained Hon. Diosdado M. Peralta, Associate Justice of the Supreme Court and main resource person of the training. The programme is an initiative of the Supreme Court of the Philippines, the Philippine Judicial Academy, and the Special Committee on Speedy Trial that was originally supported by The Asia Foundation and currently by the European Union through the Justice Sector Reform Programme: Governance in Justice (GOJUST).

GOJUST supports the development and early implementation of a long-term reform strategy in the justice sector through three inter-related components: i) sector-wide coordination and policy-making; ii) decongestion and automation; and iii) improvement of administrative and financial management.

The training programme is part of the actions that promote the speedy administration of justice. The “perennial problem of delays and docket congestion in many of the trial courts nationwide remain unabated. The tragic results of these problems are undeniable: the administration of justice is impaired, the right of the accused to speedy trial is denied, subhuman conditions pervade in detention jails, and people lose faith in the justice system.” (Peralta)

Apart from judges, the training series also included prosecutors, lawyers from the Public Attorney’s Office, and clerks of court. The participants are briefed on the new Continuous Trial guidelines, which took effect on 1 September 2017. The guidelines include provisions that hasten the trial of cases and minimize undue delays, such as identifying which motions are prohibited and which ones are meritorious.

The programme is ultimately part of the comprehensive efforts at reforming the justice system by affirming the good traditional practices while producing novel ones. As Chief Justice Maria Lourdes P.A. Sereno put it: “The Revised Guidelines for Continuous Trial of Criminal Cases is a good example of remembering past traditions and practices while considering present realities but with an eye towards making things better for future generations.”

The EU has given its full commitment to this endeavour through the GOJUST Programme, which runs from April 2016 to October 2019 with a total allocation of PHP 955 M for justice reform.

– Hon. Diosdado M. Peralta, Associate Justice of the Supreme Court, Chairperson of the Special Committee on Speedy Trial

– Hon. Diosdado M. Peralta, Associate Justice of the Supreme Court, Chairperson of the Special Committee on Speedy Trial

The PHILJA-GOJUST Team for Continuous Trial Training with Justice Diosdado M. Peralta and Court Administrator Midas P. Marquez

GOJUST Team Leader Christian Eldon delivering the opening remarks

Region 4 Participants from First Level Courts, National Prosecution Service and the Public Attorney’s Office