Today is Monday, May 21, 2018

CA-Mindanao Grows CAMATIS

By Atty. Gamaliel G. Bello

If the mention of CAMATIS produces an icon in your mind that is rotund, soft, succulent and gleaming red vegetable that is indispensable in the kitchen, think again. That is not what we grow. CAMATIS is Caseload Management And Tracking Information System. It compliments CAMIS – the Court of Appeals Management Information System – the existing computer program of the Court. The scope of CAMIS is the entire Court of Appeals and the program was designed to come up with a centralized database of all the cases filed with the court all over the country that can tell us in an instant how many cases were filed, how many cases were resolved, decided or disposed, how many cases are pending, how old they are, etc. CAMATIS is a computer program customized for the real needs of the office of an Associate Justice. It is a product borne out of the actual demand for efficiency and productivity by those who are at the forefront of monitoring and tracking down the status of every case that comes in and out of every office. The data generated from the program may also be printed out for easy reference and for convenience as CAMATIS is more for per-office implementation whereas CAMIS is on a court-wide scope.

CAMATIS has several functions. Foremost is the generation of the vital statistical information that the office of an Associate Justice needs for its monthly report called Judicial Data Statistics. This monthly report requires such figures, among others, as the total number of special (SP), civil (CV) and criminal (CR) cases raffled to the Office of the Associate Justice, the number of such cases that are brought to it on appeal and those that were originally filed with the Court of Appeals, the total number of cases decided on the merits, dismissed outright, or re-raffled to another Associate Justice for decision, the age of the cases, interlocutory orders issued for each case and a built-in pseudo alarm system that alerts the Justice when the deadline for resolution or decision is coming up. With the advent of CAMATIS, these statistical data can now be generated in a matter of seconds.

With just a few clicks of the mouse, the office using the software is able to know what cases are due or overdue for decision or resolution for the month. The program has the capacity to scan for duplicate records in the database such as those cases with identical GR number or case number of origin. It can also give clues to a Justice whether a case needs to be studied for possible consolidation with another case.  Also of particular importance is the program’s capacity to track the current status of a case by the mere typing of the name of a party to the case or its case number. These and all other features have been integrated into the program by its creator upon suggestions of staff members and other court personnel after a few months of its test run.

Today, it is on its second edition after certain modifications had been made. Upgrading will continue and its third edition is only a question of time.

Finally, just like any other database computer program, the principle of “garbage in garbage out” (GIGO) should be borne in mind if only to maximize the potential of CAMATIS. It takes a meticulous and dedicated industry in encoding the necessary and relevant data into the database for each case. The benefits, however, far exceeds the amount of time and labor invested. By the same token, a careless and haphazard effort in encoding the required data can only result in a messy and unreliable statistical report.

This computer program was hatched in the office of Justice Romulo V. Borja. In the first few months after his appointment as Associate Justice in 2004, he was overwhelmed by the number of cases sent to his office as his initial case load.  When the records of the cases started pouring in, the more overwhelmed he became. Resisting the impulse to acknowledge the situation beyond solution, he sat down with his staff to find an approach that will systematically inform his office what happens to the cases as they arrived, were recorded, resolved or decided on the merits. Everyone thought a well-conceived computer-program can do the trick. But who will create the program?  Will the human resources in the office measure up to the challenge? They thought, they could after assessing their strengths. Atty. Jerome Jarales, a member of the staff was picked to lead the team. He was chosen for the specific reason that in his younger years, he attended computer studies. Also, the requirement for a monthly report from each Justice which generally are lumped together as Judicial Data Statistics spurred more their eagerness to come up with a homegrown computer program that can address the concern for efficient and speedy preparation of the monthly reports.  With the aid of the other members of the office, he succeeded in coming up with CAMATIS, version I.  Atty. Suzette Dablio, also a member of Justice Borja’s staff, volunteered to teach the staff of the other Justices of the Mindanao Station of the Court of Appeals during the initial implementation of the program.

When the Rule of Law Team of USAID came to the Mindanao Station on 12 December 2007, they were shown the program and how it works. Spontaneously, Atty. George Carmona, who heads said Team, remarked: “Maganda ito!”

Today, several of the offices in the station are using it to their hearts’ satisfaction.

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