EX-CJ Panganiban thinks ‘judges-at-large’ will be a dud: Better to create more RTCs, hire more judges in slashing backlog
Former Chief Justice Artemio Panganiban gave the thumbs down to a bill filed by Senators Sonny Angara and Richard Gordon to create 100 “judges-at-large” to resolve the massive backlog of cases in the Regional Trial Court and the troubling jail congestion it caused.
“While the offered solution may theoretically ease congestion, it is, in my humble opinion, difficult to implement and practice. True, the judges-at-large will have the same qualifications, salaries, privileges, allowances, benefits and rank as the regular judges, plus ‘displacement allowances’ to cover food, housing and transportation expenses. Still, they would be considered inferior to their regular counterparts,” said Panganiban in his Inquirer column.
Angara and Gordon had proposed to create RTC mobile posts for judges to be deployed by the Supreme Court to help clear the dockets of 1,100 RTCs with an average 580 pending cases per sala. This backlog has led to congested jails where 60 percent of detainees still waiting for the final verdict on their cases.
Panganiban said the SC would be hardpressed to name 100 judges-at-large given “comparatively low pay and the security risks in remote and rebel-infested areas where these judges would be needed.”
Panganiban said a “better solution” was fto fill up the 25 percent vacancy in RTC while “creating 150 more regular RTC salas in the congested areas to be presided by regular RTC judges.”