By Miko Morelos
Philippine Daily Inquirer
First Posted 03:28:00 01/22/2011
MANILA, Philippines—More family courts, please.
This appeared to be the most pressing concern for members of the bench in Las Piñas, with the rising number of couples in the city who want to split up.
“It seems there are a lot of people filing for the annulment of their marriages,” Judge Joselito Vibandor told Chief Justice Renato Corona and Supreme Court Administrator Midas Marquez who were the special guests at the launching on Friday of the Justice on Wheels program in Las Piñas.
Judges from the city’s trial courts, as well as city prosecutors and public defenders on Friday raised other legal issues with officials of the Supreme Court during the inauguration of the program aimed at expediting the disposition of court cases.
In an interview with the Inquirer, Vibandor said the two trial courts designated to hear cases involving family issues are clogged with lawsuits, on top of other criminal and civil cases.
Apart from petitioners seeking the annulment of their marriages, the other cases involve violence against women and children, which also fall under the jurisdiction of family courts.
The judge, however, could not give an exact figure as to how many annulment cases are pending in the two courts.
Both courts have almost 800 cases pending in their dockets, while regular courts have an average of 60 to 80 cases, Vibandor added.
On the average, for every case raffled off to a regular court, three are thrown to a family court, and this ratio has caused the dockets to be clogged, Vibandor explained.
Marquez asked the judge to put his request for more family courts in writing so the high court could act on it.
City Prosecutor Cynthia Luang also asked Marquez if the Supreme Court could designate more drug courts, and the latter likewise suggested that she write the justice department about her request.
Another judge asked about the possibility of having more MTCs (metropolitan trial courts) in the city to hasten the resolution of cases. Las Piñas has 10 regional trial courts and one MTC.
Earlier in the day, Las Pinas’ lone congressman, Rep. Mark Villar, told court workers that he had already filed a bill seeking the institution of five more MTCs for the city.
The Justice on Wheels program was instituted in 2004 from a concept paper put together by Supreme Court officials after then Chief Justice Hilario Davide Jr. studied the possibility of having mobile courts in the country after seeing the program at work on an official visit to Guatemala.
Since then, the program has expedited the release of more than 2,500 prisoners, and suits settled through court mediation procedures.