Judges-at-large

May 24, 2019

THE reported backlog in trial courts in various parts of this Southeast Asian nation of English-speaking people is something that should be addressed by the government.

That’s why we, as a well-meaning Filipino, commend our senators for approving on third and final reading Senate Bill (SB) 2065, which seeks to create judges-at-large positions across the country.

Otherwise known as the “Judges-At-Large Act of 2018,” SB No. 2065, under Committee Report No. 496, was approved with 17 affirmative votes, zero negative vote and no abstention.

And we share the view of Senator Richard “Dick” Gordon, a lawyer, that the passage of the proposed legislation is a correct move considering the perennial backlog problems in court cases.

One of the youngest members of the 1971 Constitutional Convention, the highly articulate Gordon is chairman of the Senate committee on justice and human rights and sponsor of SB No. 2065.

Records show that in 2017, there were 160,000 cases pending in the 1,200 first-level courts (city and municipal) and 640,000 in the 1,100 second-level courts or the regional trial courts.

Coming from former Supreme Court Chief Justice Artemio Panganiban, the statistics “defeat the constitutional provision on the speedy disposition of cases,” according to Gordon.

The Constitution states that “all persons shall have the right to a speedy disposition of their cases before all judicial, quasi-judicial or administrative bodies,” he added.

Of course, nobody will argue with our lawmakers that the creation of “judges-at-large” positions will speed up the disposition of court cases not only in the metropolis but elsewhere.

As Gordon said, “justice delayed is justice denied.”