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Ex-DOJ official on Remulla drug trial: Nothing strange

Neil Jayson Servallos - The Philippine Star
Ex-DOJ official on Remulla drug trial: Nothing strange
Following a three-year pilot test in Metro Manila, the Supreme Court (SC) started implementing the continuous trial system in criminal cases in trial courts nationwide in 2017.
STAR / File

MANILA, Philippines — The swift resolution of the drug possession case filed against Justice Secretary Jesus Crispin Remulla’s son is nothing “strange” considering the continuous trial system in criminal cases being implemented since 2017, a former Department of Justice (DOJ) official said yesterday.

“There’s nothing strange about that. There’s that continuous trial rule. Many criminal cases faced shortcuts,” former DOJ undersecretary Jose Justiniano said in an interview on ANC.

Following a three-year pilot test in Metro Manila, the Supreme Court (SC) started implementing the continuous trial system in criminal cases in trial courts nationwide in 2017.

Initiated by then chief justice Maria Lourdes Sereno and supported by the United States Agency for International Development, the project aims to protect and advance the constitu-tional right of litigants to speedy disposition of criminal cases.

The continuous trial is designed to cut the hearings of criminal cases from the usual three to five years to just around three months.
Under the system, the trial should be held from Monday to Thursday and courts must call the cases at exactly 8:30 a.m. for morning hearings and 2 p.m. for afternoon hearings.While

such may be the case, Justiniano said “there is really a rule on continuous trial, but the only problem is that it is often violated than applied.”

A group of human rights lawyers raised questions as to why the Las Piñas City Regional Trial Court took less than 100 days to resolve the drug possession case filed against Juanito Jose Remulla III.

Former SC spokesman Theodore Te noted that the “brevity of the proceedings in the case is a standard to aspire for, but the question needs to be asked: was the name of the accused a factor?”

The younger Remulla was released from detention on Friday after Judge Ricardo Moldez III acquitted him of drug charges.
In rendering an acquittal, Moldez said there was no clear evidence that Remulla had “freely, consciously and with full knowledge possessed the seized illegal drugs.”

Remulla was arrested in October last year at BF Resort Village in Las Piñas by anti-narcotics agents during a controlled delivery operation that yielded at least 900 grams of kush or high-grade marijuana valued at P1.3 million.

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