Today is Tuesday, June 27, 2017
  
 

Towards the Vision: Reforming Approaches, Enhancing Performance

by Presiding Justice Ruben T. Reyes

AS the year 2006 came to a close, the Court reviews the work it has done, the challenges met and the endeavors launched under the banner vision “A Court of Appeals that is righteous and reasonable in its decisions and resolutions, responsible and responsive to the challenge of judicial service”.

The past year saw departures, retirement and arrivals. Justices Godardo Jacinto, Vicente Yap and Santiago Ranada retired while Justice Eliezer De los Santos passed away. Several new members of the Court were appointed last year. They are Justices Marlene Gonzales-Sison, Romeo Barza, Agustin Dizon, Sixto Marella, Jr., Antonio Villamor, Priscilla Baltazar-Padilla, Mario Lopez, Franciso Acosta, Stephen Cruz, Jane Aurora Lantion and Michael Elbinias. They represent the next generation of jurists that is to lead this Court into the coming years.

Changes aside, safety and security have been identified as key areas of concern that have received special attention in 2006, especially so in this age of terrorism, bomb threats and heightened militancy among interest groups and litigants. The Presiding Justice introduced several measures aimed at enhancing security effectiveness.

In several memoranda, the compulsory wearing of identification cards and prescribed uniform was required to readily identify court personnel from mere visitors. Subsequently, visitors were carefully screened before admission and violators were immediately cited with infractions. In a July 26, 2006 memorandum, car passes were required of visitors and guests. A “no loitering” policy was also introduced in November 16, 2006 to eradicate truancy among court personnel and increase work productivity.

The Court also launched an energy conservation campaign. In Memorandum 01-06-RTR dated July 12, 2006, the rules on the observance of the official time and the prohibition against unauthorized overstaying at the office were laid down.

Reaching out to the public has been one of the main concerns of the Court. In 2006, the Court launched its official website: www.ca.sc.gov.ph. Through the website, any person, whether litigant or not, may easily access and download its decisions and resolutions. This is a marked improvement by which the Court and its works are brought closer to the consciousness of the people.

Apart from administrative matters, the speedy promulgation of decisions and resolutions remains the priority. Despite the transfer of tax cases to the Court of Tax Appeals under the latter’s redefined jurisdiction, this Court was flooded with thousands of cases, ranging from appeals to original actions. In 2006 alone, a total of 11,984 cases was filed with the Court. From 2000 to 2005, 73,369 cases have been filed, making the case load as many as 85,353. Upon the launch of the zero backlog project Part III at the start of 2006, great strides have been made at improving case disposition at a faster pace. Not to sacrifice quality over quantity, there is a move to encourage the resolution of cases beyond the completion stage. To stress this, a memorandum was issued emphasizing the resolution of motions within a 3-month period and prioritizing the disposition of cases that have been submitted for decision beyond one year. Below is a tabular representation of data regarding case disposition:

11,350 6,016
  Year 2000 Year 2001 Year 2002 Year 2003 Year 2004 Year 2005 Year 2006 TOTAL
I. Number of Cases filed:
1. Civil Cases 3,802 3,823 4,357 3,947 3,595 3,425 3,145 26,094
2. Special Cases

6,145 6,040 6,644 6,894 6,966 6,670 6,527 45,886
3. Criminal Cases 1,403 1,886 1,671 904 1,809 3,388 2,312 13,373
Total 11,749 12,672 11,745 12,370 13,483 11,984 85,353
II. Disposed Cases by Decision:
1. Civil Cases 1,966 2,754 3,119 2,920 2,668 3,935 3,743 21,105
2. Special Cases 3,215 3,420 3,534 3,633 4,456 4,630 5,109 27,997
3. Criminal Cases 835 894 915 921 837 1,410 1,764 7,576
Total 7,068 7,568 7,474 7,961 9,975 10,616 56,678
III. Disposed Cases by Resolution/Dismissal:
1. Civil Cases 1,800 1,358 1,152 1,167 981 1,037 818 8,313
2. Special Cases 3,009 2,773 2,636 2,734 2,599 2,650 2,543 18,944
3. Criminal Cases 414 375 396 354 334 398 370 2,641
Total 5,223 4,506 4,184 4,255 3,914 4,085 3,731 29,898
IV. Total Disposed Cases:
1. Civil Cases 3,766 4,112 4,271 4,087 3,649 4,972 4,561 29,418
2. Special Cases 6,224 6,193 6,170 6,367 7,055 7,280 7,652 46,941
3. Criminal Cases 1,249 1,269 1,311 1,275 1,171 1,808 2,134 10,217
Total 11,239 11,574 11,752 11,729 11,875 14,060 14,347 86,576
V. Pending Cases as of December 31, 2006:
  Pending Decision Pending Completion Total
1. Civil Cases 5,860 3,432 9,292
2. Special Cases 1,572 1,760 3,332
3. Criminal Cases 3,343 4,191 7,534
Total 10,775 9,383 20,158

The project has borne fruit. For the past 5 years, the number of cases filed every year exceeded those decided by the Court. The gap between the number of cases filed and those decided was comparatively high. This proportion was the governing trend from the years 2000 to 2005. Compared to the cases filed yearly, the Court was only able to consistently maintain that gap at a 64% level. In 2005, this figure improved to 74%, a considerable but still unimpressive jump from the previous years.

With the adherence to the zero backlog project and the active participation of all concerned, the Court reversed the trend. At the close of 2006, the Court was able to register a record high 89% disposition rate, the highest in the last 5 years. Add to this are the 3,731 cases disposed by way of resolution or dismissal. All in all, the Court adjudicated in 2006 a total of 14,347 cases, a significant increase from 14,060 of 2005.

The efforts of individual justices who made this possible must be recognized for emulation and inspiration. Like the Presiding Justice, Justices Portia Hormachuelos, Mariano del Castillo and Magdangal de Leon also closed the year 2006 with a zero pending decision caseload. Justices Martin Villarama, Jr., Juan Enriquez, Jr., Arsenio Magpale, Pampio Abarintos, Conrado Vazquez, Jr. and Remedios Salazar Fernando followed with a pending balance of 3 to 5 cases only. On another front, dispensing 200 or more cases in 2006 are Justices Vicente Roxas (330), Isaias Dicdican (310), Myrna Dimaranan Vidal (270), Normandie Pizarro (251), Roberto Barrios (247), Pampio Abarintos (246), Josefina Guevara-Salonga (217), Marlene Gonzales-Sison (215), Arsenio Magpale (212), Mariflor Punzalan Castillo (208), Estela Perlas-Bernabe (205) and the late Eliezer delos Santos (203).

But the challenge persists. As commercial activities grow and interaction among different social segments heightens, controversies requiring judicial intervention arise. Thus, the overall number of cases filed remains consistently at not less than 10,000. Of the cases pending before the Court, 10,775 are pending decision while 9,383 have been pending completion. Nonetheless, this is a noticeable decrease from the past year’s record of 11,319 cases pending decision and 11,202 cases pending completion. If the Court maintains the present rate of disposition, these numbers can surely be surmounted and the pending cases completed in a few years. No longer can people complain of delayed justice in this Appellate Court.

The tremendous efforts of the magistrates of the Court are testament to their dedication and commitment as dispensers of justice. Their accomplishments once again affirm the Court as an institution of honor and action, virtues that have sustained it as a unique institution in the national landscape. Having said that, this year's theme “a legacy of courage and zeal at 71” is a fitting summation of its rich history and a complementing credo to the Vision set by the leadership.

Indeed, the courage and zeal of the men and women of the Court bring it closer to its goals. Celebrating on February 1st 2007 its 71st founding anniversary and as the Court works its way towards its avowed aspiration, the people may rest content that it shall be relentless in its pursuit of justice and untiring in meeting new challenges.




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