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More judges, courts needed to ease problem

By: Ador Vincent S. Mayol August 31,2014 - 09:51 AM

Additional judges and courts can help decongest the country’s jails which have been overcrowded since the 1980s, retired judge Meinrado Paredes said.

“The Supreme Court has introduced  several  programs to speed up the resolution of cases but our jails still  remain congested. We keep on holding endless seminars to talk about how to solve jail congestion,” Paredes said.

The retired judge   said he expects  jail congestion in Cebu City to worsen by the end of this year as four trial court judges are set to retire.

Court Administrator Jose Midas Marquez reported last Friday that all jails in Cebu are congested, with the worst case in the Mandaue City where it overcrowded at   1,500 percent

He said the SC decided to create a task force that will monitor the cases of inmates and to reduced overcrowding in jails.

Paredes agreed that the best way to decongest jails was  to speed up  court cases but the present number, he said, can’t cope with the growing number of cases being filed


“I think our judges are doing their best to dispose of cases but there are just too many cases being filed,” Paredes said.

He said the High Court came out with remedies  like  the judicial affidavit rule, mediation, and Judicial Dispute Resolution but they still haven’t solved jail congestion.

Paredes said it’s time for the Supreme Court  to create more courts.

“In order to create more courts, there has to be enough budget. Unfortunately, the Supreme Court and the executive department which directs the Department of Budget and Management don’t have a good relationship for now,” he said.

Democrito Barcenas, former president of the Integrated Bar of the Philippines (IBP), said new judges should immediately be appointed to fill up vacant courts.

“Expect jail congestion to worsen if vacant courts won’t be filled up immediately. Despite the diligence of judges, it’s difficult to handle two courts,” he said.

Based on data from the Bureau of Jail Management and Penology (BJMP), the Mandaue City Jail is the most congested with 1,020 inmates.

The facility was designed to accommodate  65 inmates.

Task force

The 160-capacity Lapu-Lapu City jail presently houses 1,262 inmates. In Cebu City, 2,355 inmates are occupying the Cebu City Jail which was built to hold 819 prisoners.

Marquez , who was in Cebu Friday to discuss the problem with different government stakeholders, said the High Court is concerned about the plight of prisoners, which he said is  whom he consider  part of the SC’s agenda.

He said the creation of a local task force to  monitor pending court cases will be led by a Regional Trial Court judge with judges from the Municipal Trial Court, BJMP officials, chief prosecutors, and the Public Attorney Office as members.


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Cebu courts may be relocated to SRP

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TAGS: Cebu City, court, judge, Supreme Court

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