House OKs 2 new Sandigan divisions
MANILA, Philippines—The House of Representatives has approved the creation of two more divisions of the Sandiganbayan to help the antigraft court resolve cases more quickly and efficiently.
The lower chamber last month endorsed to the Senate a proposed judicial reform law to “unclog” the dockets of the Sandiganbayan through a number of measures, including the creation of the new divisions, which would raise the number of division to seven.
Under House Bill No. 5283, the Sandiganbayan will add two more divisions, reduce the quorum requisite to two instead of three justices, and exclude from the court’s jurisdiction cases where there is no bribery charges and the transactions are under P1 million.
The proposed law will transfer jurisdiction from the Sandiganbayan to the Regional Trial Courts in cases where the information does not allege any damages or bribes; where the information alleges damages or bribes that are not quantifiable; or where the information alleges damages or bribes arising from transactions not exceeding P1 million.
Another provision states that “subject to the rules promulgated by the Supreme Court, the cases falling under the jurisdiction of the Regional Trial Courts… shall be tried in a judicial region other than where the official holds office.”
The proposed measure also modifies the quorum requirement from three members to two members of a division, thus allowing a division to hear cases when a justice is absent.
It also provides that “all three members of a division shall deliberate on a case submitted for judgment or final order” and “the concurrence of two justices in a division shall be necessary to render judgement or final order.”
The measure was transmitted to the Senate for its deliberation on Dec. 17, just before Congress adjourned for the holidays.
The bill consolidates five similar measures sponsored by the justice and appropriations committees chaired, respectively, by Iloilo Rep. Niel Tupas Jr. and Davao City Rep. Isidro Ungab.
Subscribe to INQUIRER PLUS to get access to The Philippine Daily Inquirer & other 70+ titles, share up to 5 gadgets, listen to the news, download as early as 4am & share articles on social media. Call 896 6000.