June 2, 2012
MANILA, Philippines – President Benigno Aquino III should convene the Judicial Executive Legislative Advisory and Consultative Council (JELACC) and map out budgetary support to modernize the justice system, Sen Francis “Kiko” Pangilinan, a lawyer and former chair of the Senate justice committee said in a statement Saturday, June 2.
“Now that the biggest stumbling block to reforms in the justice system has been removed, it is incumbent upon Malacañang to prepare for the first JELACC meeting under this administration and discuss critical action points necessary to modernize the judiciary.”
The JELACC, a brainchild of Pangilinan, was created in 2008 to discuss reforms, particularly budgetary assistance to the judiciary for their reforms and modernization. While convened a few times during the Arroyo administration, it has yet to meet under the Aquino administration.
“There is a need to double the budget of the judiciary. The judiciary receives only 1% of the national budget—this is too low,” Pangilinan pointed out.
“We cannot have a first-world system of justice with a third-world budgetary allocation.”
There is a need for more courts to address what he termed as “the huge backlog of cases” that has caused cases to remain pending in the first-level courts for an average of 6 years. “This is totally unacceptable,” Pangilinan said.
Likewise, “there is an urgent need to address the vacancies in both the judiciary and the prosecution service that have been a major source of delays in criminal trials,” Pangilinan said in his statement.
“There is a need to increase conviction rates from a measly 16% to as high as 60%-70% by 2016,” he added.
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