Chief Justice Lucas Bersamin reminded lower court judges of the high court’s existing administrative orders that set guidelines for judges in issuing temporary restraining orders (TROs) on government projects as well as granting plea bargaining agreements in petty drug cases.
KJ Rosales/File
SC tells court judges to be prudent on TROs
Edu Punay (The Philippine Star) - July 22, 2019 - 12:00am

MANILA, Philippines — The Supreme Court (SC) has warned trial court judges who do not follow existing guidelines in issuing temporary restraining orders (TRO) and clearing accused persons in drug cases to be prudent or face administrative suit.

The SC issued the statement in response to President Duterte’s recent warning on issuances of TROs on his administration’s infrastructure projects, as well as the approval of plea bargaining in drug cases.

Chief Justice Lucas Bersamin reminded lower court judges of the high court’s existing administrative orders that set guidelines for judges in issuing temporary restraining orders (TROs) on government projects as well as granting plea bargaining agreements in petty drug cases.

The SC official specifically cited Administrative Circular 07-99 and Resolution in Administrative Matter 18-03-16-SC.

AC 77-99 was issued in 1999 upon the request of then-president Joseph Estrada, “reminding judges to respect Presidential Decree No. 1818, which prohibits the issuance of TROs in cases involving implementation of government infrastructure projects.”

In the order, the Court enjoined all judges “to observe utmost caution, prudence and judiciousness in the issuance of TRO and in the grant of writs of preliminary injunction to avoid suspicion that its issuance or grant was for considerations other than the strict merits of the case.” 

Bersamin warned judges of possible administrative cases for violating the rules, according to SC spokesman Brian Hosaka.

“The SC will not take this matter lightly. All trial judges must strictly adhere to all related issuances and circulars on plea bargaining framework in drugs cases,” said Hosaka, who underscored that the SC has been incessantly addressing these matters with the issuance of pertinent circulars.

In 2014, Court Administrator Midas Marquez also issued Circular 38-2014 for the judicious implementation of court issuances concerning the ban on the issuance of TROs or writs of preliminary injunction involving government infrastructure projects. 

He ordered all judges of the first and second level courts “to continuously observe and implement” all administrative issuances of the Court “to ensure that all cases involving government infrastructure projects can be resolved in a speedy and timely manner.”

AM 18-03-16, on the other hand, was issued last year to guide lower court judges on the offenses falling under acceptable plea bargain agreement.

The rule specifically allows plea bargaining and probation in drug cases only in charges of possession of illegal drugs with less than five grams of shabu or less than 300 grams of marijuana and in charges of sale of illegal drugs weighing less than one gram of shabu or less than 10 grams of marijuana.

SUPREME COURT TEMPORARY RESTRAINING ORDERS
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