To speed up the delivery of justice, three significant reforms were instituted recently: (1) the “Judicial Affidavit Rule,” (2) the filling up of all judicial vacancies, and (3) the stabilization of judicial compensation.
Judicial affidavit. To ease case congestion and minimize delays in the trial courts, the Supreme Court promulgated on Sept. 4 (to take effect on Jan. 1, 2013) the Judicial Affidavit Rule. Under this new system sponsored by two high court committees headed by Justices Antonio T. Carpio and Roberto A. Abad, witnesses will no longer be examined via tedious and lengthy questions and answers to procure their direct testimonies.
Instead, the parties shall submit affidavits in a language known to the witness, accompanied by their translation in English or Filipino. The adverse party shall, however, retain the right to cross-examine the witnesses on their affidavits and on the exhibits or documents attached or annexed thereto.
This rule shall be applied in all civil cases as well as in criminal cases “where the maximum of the imposable penalty does not exceed six years,” or “where the accused agrees to the use of judicial affidavits, irrespective of the penalty involved.”
The Supreme Court observed that a “piloting (of the rule in Quezon City) quickly resulted in reducing by about two-thirds the time used for presenting the testimonies of witnesses.” And if I may add, affidavits have long been used in preliminary investigations of crimes in the prosecutors’ offices. In these proceedings, cross-examinations are not even conducted by the adverse parties, but “clarificatory questions,” when needed, may be asked by the prosecutors, not by the opposing counsels. The result is a much faster disposition of cases.
Trial court vacancies. Sen. Franklin Drilon discovered, during a recent hearing of the Senate committee on finance he heads, that 591 trial courts, or about 26 percent of all...