Quezon City Council cites impact of Sereno-led judicial reforms

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Chief Justice Maria Lourdes Sereno in her first public appearance after filling her indefinite leave speaks before University of Baguio Law students and the Baguio legal community,in this file photo. STAR FOTO BY ANDY G. ZAPATA JR.

The Quezon City Council has passed a resolution commending Chief Justice Maria Lourdes Sereno for judicial reforms she implemented that resulted in a remarkably speedier adjudication of cases.

Resolution 7183-2017, authored by Councilor Allan Butch Francisco, cited studies showing the huge number of cases pending in courts especially in urban areas where 75 million of the population are concentrated, and where many courts have 1,000 or more cases in their dockets through the years that keep on piling.

It was in 2012 when Chief Justice Sereno decided to focus her attention on the causes of delays in court preceedings. Among these are the absence of defense and prosection witnesses, burdened prosecutors, overzealous lawyers, dilatory litigants and even the slow postal system that the courts still use.

Among the judicial programs that the high court implemented in Quezon City were the Judicial Affidavit Rule, which reduced the time for presenting the testimonies of witnesses by about two-thirds in Quezon City; electronic courts (Ecourts) or a case management system that records all cases using Information Technology (IT) and shows the age of each case, notifies judges of deliverables and deadlines, provides them with templates of orders and decisions, in order to fast-track their judicial work; a decongestion program called Hustisyeah which resulted in a 30-precent drop in the dockets of the Quezon City pilot courts.

Quezon City is one of the six metropolitan trial courts in the country that piloted the implementation of the Continuous Trial Guidelines that speed up court proceedings.

The Continuous Trial Guidelines program prohibits postponement unless based on exceptional grounds, sets trial dates one day apart, and requires promulgation of the decision within 90 days.

With the advanced stage of judicial reforms implemented in Quezon City, it has become the first Justice Zone.