Aquino to SC execs: Slow court proceedings delay infra projects
Ushered into one tent with Supreme Court (SC) justices, President Benigno Aquino III took his chance on Friday and complained of slow court proceedings, which have caused delays in the implementation of infrastructure projects.
Present at the event were Chief Justice Maria Lourdes Sereno, Associate Justice Teresita Leonardo de Castro, Associate Justice Estela Perlas-Bernabe, Justice Secretary Leila de Lima and other associate justices.
“Ipinapaabot sa atin ng butihing (Public Works) Secretary (Rogelio) ‘Babes’ Singson ang isa sa mga dahilan ng aberya sa implementasyon ng ilang proyekto,” Aquino said during the groundbreaking ceremony for the new SC complex in Fort Bonifacio, Taguig City. “Kahit raw nakapagdeposito na ang DPWH ng halagang naaayon sa batas, di agad naglalabas ang korte ng Writ of Possession.”
(Secretary “Babes” Singson informed us about one of the reasons behind the delays of the implementation of some projects. He said that even if the DPWH has deposited money for the property, in accordance to the law, the court does not immediately release a Writ of Possession.)
Aquino said some projects are also delayed because they require “determination of just compensation” or the amount of money the government must pay to convert private property for public use.
“Sana agad nating matutukan ang paglalabas ng desisyon sa ganitong mga isyu. Malinaw naman po sa batas ang karapatan ng gobyernong ituloy ang proyekto kahit hindi pa natatapos ang pagdinig ng korte sa usapin ng tamang kabayaran,” the President said.
(I hope we are able to prioritize the release of decisions for such issues. The law is clear about the right of the government to continue a project even if the case on the just compensation is still being tackled in court.)
He further explained that a temporary restraining order (TRO) cannot be issued for government infrastructure projects but the delay caused by courts is almost similar to a TRO.
“Sa tuwing nauudlot ang makabuluhang proyekto ng gobyerno, nauudlot din ang benepisyo para sa karaniwang Pilipino,” he said.
(Every time an important government project is delayed, the benefits for ordinary Filipinos are also delayed.)
Aquino added that delays also result in higher prices or expenses.
But Sereno said she was not aware of the issue, especially that involving the Ninoy Aquino International Airport (Naia) expressway.
“I will have to look into these matters,” she told reporters during an ambush interview.
“In fact we will have to discuss as a country the question of what kind of periods are allowable for due process to take place, considering that ultimately you really have to make sure that the property owners are not unduly deprived,” she said.
Sereno explained that they have already convened “several small committees” to discuss such problems.
“Because the problems of our country (are) very complicated now. The old legal framework is no longer capable of addressing all those issues,” she said.
Despite his complaints, Aquino said Sereno has been working hard to bring justice in a true and efficient manner.
He said that while the new SC complex will be modern, the people inside the infrastructure are more important.
“Lahat ng magiging kasangkapan sa bago ninyong gusali, makakatulong sa pagtupad ng inyong mandato, pero nasa sa inyo pa rin kung isusulong ninyo ang tama at makatwiran,” he said.
(All the new equipment in your building will help you achieve your mandate but it is still up to you if you will push for what is right and just.) Kristine Angeli Sabillo/RAM, IDL
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