Cesar Gorillo .
I FIND it quite disturbing the daily report on GMA about the poor conditions of Philippine jails and one of the reasons is that our justice system should have taken it only 180 days to resolve the crimes in accordance with law.
I have worked with the Regional Trial Court for eight years and I could not find how a crime can be resolved in 180 days.
In the first place, the present courts are so awash with drug cases that it is virtually impossible to try all these cases in a given day. The most that the court can try in full is about five cases in one day only. Why? It is because in a drug case alone, the prosecutor handling the case has to present the witnesses and all the evidences such as the shabu, with its accompanying laboratory exam which must be testified also by the laboratory in-charge of the PNP, the inventory of items seized, the witnesses to the arrest and the inventory witnesses. All these witnesses cannot be presented in one day and during the trial some witnesses have other assignments to do and could not attend the hearing. Sometimes, the legal counsel of the accused are not there and the hearing had to be postponed and with the voluminous other cases to be tried by the court, the postponement could take another two to six months. Then after the fiscal has presented his evidence, it is now the chance of the accused to present his defense and again the same thing happens with all the witnesses to be presented to prove the innocence of the accused. Then the judge decides and it takes time because he has to weigh all the evidences presented and makes researches on the law of the land, the Supreme Court Decisions for which he will base he decisions as against the evidences presented. We should remember that it is a life of a person here at stake and a wrong decision will haunt that judge in his lifetime. And we should also remember that the court has to try other cases such as estafa cases, homicide and murder cases, physical injuries, land cases and other disputes, all of which also have their deadlines especially in the making of decisions after all the unending trials.
In fairness to the Supreme Court, it has adopted many reforms such as the Alternative Dispute Resolution in which parties are mediated by the Philippine Mediation Center for out-of-court settlement and this process unclogs the court of cases for trial. But the mediation often do not end up successfully because both parties simply love to tackle the case in court rather than be settled at their disadvantage.
Another case is allowing the accused the own up the crime without the need for presentation of witness. This is known as Voluntary Plea of Guilt to spare the court of the tedious trial and the accused is meted a lighter penalty because of the voluntary acceptance of the crime. But the problem is that many accused simply want the trial hoping they will be declared innocent in the long run. Many could have been sentenced a lighter penalty but because they wanted a trial, the judge simply decides based on the evidence presented and many received very long prison terms instead of if they have voluntarily pleaded.
The real problem now is the degree by which the government is pursuing its drug campaign. Forget about unclogging the courts of its assigned crimes for trial and decision. The one hundred eighty day limit is simply beyond the capacity of the courts or else we will end up not giving the chance for our criminals to be presented with the charges against them known as miscarriage of justice.
The best solution is to allow our churches to handle the rehabilitation of these drug addicts by letting them attend proven seminars that will change people lives such as Basic Charismatic Seminar, Prex, Neo Cathecumin, Couples for Christ, Singles for Christ, Handmaid of the Lord, Love Flock, Oasis of Love, Cursillo, etc., so that they will change their lives with the help of God and they become productive members of society.
Bringing them all to prison will make them human animals!