Bill seeks to clear backlog in courts

AIMING to reduce the backlog in trial courts, the Senate approved on third and final reading a measure creating judges-at-large positions.

Senate Bill 2065, under Committee Report No. 496, or the “Judges At-Large Act of 2018 was approved with 17 affirmative votes, zero negative vote and no abstention.

Senator Richard Gordon, chairman of the Senate Committee on Justice and Human Rights and sponsor of the measure, said the creation of judges-at-large positions in the municipal and regional trial courts nationwide would finally address the perennial backlog problems in court cases.

Former Supreme Court Chief Justice Artemio Panganiban has said there were about 160,000 cases pending in the 1,200 first-level courts (city and municipal courts) and 640,000 in the 1,100 second-level courts or the regional trial courts as of 2017. Panganiban said there was no statistics yet for 2018.

The statistics defeat the constitutional provision on the speedy disposition of cases, Gordon said.