Bohol needs more courts
Like other areas in the country, Bohol needs more special courts to focus on drug cases that now reach over 200.
Integrated Bar of the Philippines (IBP)-Bohol chapter president, Lawyer Ted Lagang, noted that during their April session, the lawyers already passed a resolution requesting the Supreme Court to open additional special courts that will focus on drug cases in Bohol.
The Regional Trial Court (RTC) Branch 4 at the Hall of Justice in Tagbilaran City had recently provided the data showing that they are already overburden with drug cases, the IBP-Bohol president added.
IBP-Bohol also learned that the Supreme Court had also received similar requests for additional special courts from the provincial government through the Sangguniang Panlalawigan and the RTC Branch 4.
However, the Supreme Court initially denied the request from RTC-4.
Aside from more special courts, Bohol also needs more RTCs, like in other areas of the country. But it needs legislation, Lagang said.
Just by passing by RTC-4, one could already tell the court is overburden as the long list of pending cases shows, Lagang added.
He said the data given by RTC-4 Judge Sisinio Virtudazo to IBP shows a heap of pending drug cases, although the judge is fast in disposing cases.
Itâ€™s just that there are really a lot of cases to attend to and it can even be noted on the news about anti-illegal drugs operations that there have been so many drug personalities being arrested in different areas of Bohol, according to Lagang.
All the cases in the city go to RTC-4, except those in the jurisdiction of Carmen, Loay and Talibon courts, and the other RTCs are also full.
The IBP-Bohol president also said that on the prosecution side, it would take time to go through the number of supporting documents exhibited.
In some instances, there are judges who had to inhibit and the case has to be passed on to another judge.
On the technicalities, Lagang explained that lawyer defending the accused would always use all the remedies available.
The prosecutor could not be blamed also as he only relies on what the police submitted to them.
The Comprehensive Dangerous Drugs law is very strict on technicalities, especially on the chain of custody where a missing link could already create doubt and it could be a ground for dismissal, according to Lagang.
On the part of IBP-Bohol, they continue with the annual trainings for police prosecutors and investigators.
For his part,Â Police Senior Inspector Jojit Mananquil, who heads the Provincial Intelligence Branch, agreed that the successive anti-illegal drugs operationsâ€”resulting to filing of drug casesâ€”already clogged the courts and the shortage of judges to handle the cases has now become a problem.
Agent Chona Egam of the Philippine Drug Enforcement Agency (PDEA) reported during the April 29 meeting of the Provincial Peace and Order Council (PPOC) that 203 persons are now facing separate drug-related cases in different courts in Bohol just for the first quarter.