The 22-member consultative committee, on July 9, handed its draft on the proposed federal government constitution to President Rodrigo Duterte. This new form of government is said to be strong enough to hold the country’s “socially, politically and economically sustainable” regions.
AP/Bullit Marquez
Ex-SC justice on draft charter: Creating 'mini Supreme Courts' won't solve case backlogs
( - August 1, 2018 - 7:02pm

MANILA, Philippines — A retired Supreme Court associate justice on Wednesday said creating “mini Supreme Courts” would not solve the high tribunal’s clogged dockets and would just diminish the top court’s “prestige.”

In hundreds of hours of speeches, President Rodrigo Duterte has boldly declared the Philippines must overhaul the 1987 Constitution and shift to a federal system of government to address the country's widening wealth gap and empower regional governments.

Duterte last month approved the draft federal constitution crafted by a consultative committee. The charter reviewers, whom Duterte appointed, have proposed the establishment of four high courts so cases would be hastily dealt and solved.

At a forum in the University of the Philippines, former SC Associate Justice Vicente Mendoza said addressing the high court’s backlogs lies on the so-called certiorari jurisdiction of the courts, which has been used as a basis by petitioners to indiscriminately elevate cases to the SC.

According to Mendoza, the SC should screen the cases first before placing them on the Court's docket and reject those that are “unmeritorious.”

“What was done was to strip the Supreme Court of its jurisdiction on certain cases,” the retired magistrate said.

“The present Supreme Court will be reduced into an ordinary court. It will lose its importance, it will lose its prestige because, as I said, it will now become just one of the many courts,” he added.

Under Article IX (Judicial Department) of the draft federal constitution, there will be four chief justices, each to be appointed by the president.

There will also be a total of 38 associate justices: eight each for the Federal Supreme Court, Federal Constitutional Court and Federal Administrative Court, while the Federal Electoral Court will have 14 associate justices in its bench. — Ian Nicolas Cigaral

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