by Atty. Jay I. Dejaresco
As a law practitioner who goes around in different courts attending hearings. I have noticed the uneven distribution of the number of salas in many parts of the country.
There are places that have so many court salas for their own area. There are also places that have only one sala, but handling so many cases for its area.
Let me cite an example. In Dumaguete City The number of Regional Trial Court salas, if I recall, is thirteen. Thatâ€™s too many for this area.
A court there can calendar for hearing as few as four cases in a day.
This is a judgeâ€™s dream assignment. ItsÂ a relaxed pace.
You would immediately gauge that a certain area has too many court salasÂ because of the number of cases calendared in a particular day
This is in contract to Cebu City, judging on the volume of cases heard each day.
There was even once a proposal that Dumaguete based judges be directed to go to Cebu to help hear cases.
In Tagaytay City, a very major city and a progressive one for that matter, has only one Regional Trial Court sala, Branch 18. It does not even have a permanent judge.Â The presiding judge is a pairing judge from Manila.
The calendar of cases to be heard there on a typical day is thirty.
What the court mostly does is reset the cases.
Another place is Trece Martirez in Cavite, where there is also a single sala.
I was surprised when I first appeared in this court because their office is so big, and filled with so many case folders.
The personnel told me the court even has two judges, just to attend to the sheer volume of cases.
Even in Metro Manila, one can compare the uneven distribution of court salas. For instance, Pasay City is inundated with cases, while Makati or Mandaluyong have fewer cases calendared each day.
I guess politics also has something do with this.
There are places where district congressmen (even long before) are industrious that they kept on sponsoring laws adding court salas in their districts. There are also places where their legislators before, did not bother if there is a court sala or not.
The Supreme Court ought to step in and provide the data of the load of regional trial courts and municipal trials courts in all places in the country. This is in order to equitably distribute the number of salas to hear cases.
In places where there are just too few courts, justice takes a too long to grind because it takes so much time to resolve cases.
This goes against the constitutional mandate for the speedy disposition of cases specially against theÂ detained accused.
Justice delayed is justice denied.