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Expanded jurisdiction of first-level courts seen to declog regional court dockets

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Expanded jurisdiction of first-level courts seen to declog regional court dockets
President Rodrigo Duterte signed Republic Act 11756 that amended “The Judiciary Reorganization Act of 1980” on July 30.
STAR / File

MANILA, Philippines — The Supreme Court welcomes President Rodrigo Duterte’s signing of a law that expands the jurisdiction of first level trial courts and that is seen to declog dockets of regional trial courts.

Duterte on July 30 signed Republic Act 11576 that amended “The Judiciary Reorganization Act of 1980” and expanded the jurisdiction of Metropolitan Trial Courts (MeTC), Municipal Trial Courts in Cities (MTCC), Municipal Trial Courts (MTC) and Municipal Circuit Trial Courts (MCTC).

Chief Justice Alexander Gesmundo said this new law adjusts the jurisdictional amounts of trial courts “to levels which are more suitable to the current economic conditions and property valuation in the country.”

“This law will no doubt help declog the dockets of our second-level courts, which in turn would lead to a faster adjudication of cases and better administration of justice,” he added in a statement.

The Integrated Bar of the Philippines echoed Gesmundo’s remarks and said the new law “is set to unclog the dockets” of first and second level courts.

MeTC, MTCC, MTC and MCTC are first level courts, while Regional Trial Courts are second level courts.

Amendments

RA 11576 amends part of Batas Pambansa Blg. 129 and increases “the jurisdictional amount cognizable by the [RTCs] in all civil actions which involve the title to, or possession of, real property, or any interest therein, from the previous amount of P20,000 (P50,000 in Metro Manila) to P400,000 except for forcible entry into and unlawful detainer of lands and buildings, original jurisdiction over which remains with the first level courts,” the SC Public Information explained.

Under the law, RTCs shall also exercise original jurisdiction on actions and maritime jurisdiction where the demand or claim exceeds P2 million, previously P100,000 and in Metro Manila, P200,000.

RTCs also have jurisdiction in all matters of testate and intestate probate where the gross value of estate is more than P2 million, from the previous threshold of P100,000 and P200,000 for Metro Manila.

The SC PIO also noted that RA 11576 increases RTC jurisdiction in “all other cases in which the demand, exclusive of interest, damages of whatever kind, attorney’s fees, litigation expenses and costs or the value of the property in controversy exceeds P2 million from the previous amount of P100,000.”

Gesmundo also thanked his predecessors, retired Chief Justice Lucas Bersamin “who first broached the idea with lawmakers about amending the law on the jurisdiction of our trial courts,” and retired Chief Justice Diosdado Peralta who “pushed for the approval of the bill in Congress.”

A copy of the signed law was uploaded on the Official Gazette website on August 4, and will take effect 15 days later, on August 20, the IBP said. The law is prospective, which means this will only cover cases filed before first and second level courts after it took effect.  — Kristine Joy Patag

ALEXANDER GESMUNDO RODRIGO DUTERTE SUPREME COURT
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