PB summons Provincial Prosecutor for delegating police to act as prosecutors in lower courts

By: Rosalie Abatayo October 20,2019 - 05:55 PM

`CEBU CITY, Philippines — The Cebu Provincial Board (PB) has invited Provincial Prosecutor Ludivico Vistal Cutaran in their session on Monday, October 21, to explain the latter’s move to deputize members of the Philippine National Police to prosecute cases in first-level courts.

In a memorandum issued on September 23, 2019, Cutaran said the Office of the Provincial Prosecutor has been “short-handed” in handling the volume of cases lodged in the office.

The OPP currently has 26 prosecutors handling 48 regional trial courts and 21 first-level courts or the Municipal Trial Courts (MTC) and Municipal Trial Courts in Cities (MTCCs).

“Apart from that, we have equally important inquest duties and cases under preliminary investigation to be resolved. For the last three months of this year alone, there were 1,666 cases (447 of which were for preliminary investigation and 1,189 were for inquest proceedings) that were filed before this Office,” reads a copy of Memorandum No. 2019-92 which CDN Digital obtained.

Because of the volume of workload, Cutaran said they needed to focus their “meager resources to the regional trial courts (RTCs) where the more serious cases had been pending if we were to perform our mandate efficiently and effectively.”

In the memorandum, Cutaran deputized members of the Philippine National Police (PNP) to prosecute criminal cases cognizable by first-level courts citing Section 5 of Rule 110 of the Rules of Court as the basis for the arrangement.

Although Cutaran made it clear that the delegation of police prosecutors in the lower courts was temporary, Board Member John Ismael Borgonia of Cebu’s third district has questioned Cutaran’s move.

Borgonia, a lawyer, said the provision in the Rules of Court that cited by Cutaran had already been amended by a 2002 Supreme Court ruling.

“As in case of heavy work schedule of the public prosecutor or in the event of lack of public prosecutors, it is the private prosecutor, authorized in writing by the Chief of the Prosecution Office or the Regional State Prosecutor, who may prosecute the case subject to the approval of the court,” Borgonia said quoting  Administrative Matter No. 02-2-07 issued by the SC.

With the amendment, Borgonia said there was no longer any basis in delegating of policemen to prosecute cases./dbs

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