Chief Justice Diosdado Peralta on Tuesday expressed confidence for a full implementation of his 10-point judicial reform programs aimed at “providing swift, efficient, fair and responsive justice for all Filipinos” in the year 2020.
In his New Year’s message, Peralta said he is looking forward for the year 2020 for the attainment of his reform programs for the judiciary.
“Since I took over the helm of the judiciary two months ago as its 26th Chief Justice, I cannot help but feel encouraged and hopeful that the reforms I have presented for the Judiciary will soon gain traction in the New Year to come,” said Peralta, who has been appointed as 26th Chief Justice of the Supreme Court last Oct. 23 following the retirement of Chief Justice Lucas Bersamin.
“These reforms are geared towards providing swift, efficient, fair, and responsive justice for all Filipinos regardless of stature,” he stressed.
The top magistrate admitted that in order for these initiatives to succeed, they would need the active participation of everyone in the Judiciary as well as the support of the Filipino people.
“I am therefore one with you all in prayer for a brighter and better Philippines; one which is governed peacefully under the Rule of Law,” he said.
Upon his assumption as chief justice, Peralta laid down his 10-point reform program intended to further strengthen the judiciary, including the creation of a security team patterned after the United States Marshal Service to provide security and protection justices and judges in the country.
Peralta also urged his colleagues, officials and employees of to unite and strictly follow the rule of law.
“I have other numerous plans for the judiciary especially as regards the strengthening of employees’ sense of self-worth so that each employee in the judiciary will take pride in saying that he/she is a public servant in the judiciary,” Peralta said.
The 67-year-old top magistrate said one of his concerns is the numerous incidents of killings involving justices and judges whom he said can be addressed by creating a security team patterned after the United States Marshal Service.
“We hope that we can devise a system either thru legislation or thru court initiative, the creation of security system patterned after the US Marshals,” Peralta said.
The US Marshals Service’s Judicial Security Division protects the judicial process by protecting their federal judges, jurors and other members of the judiciary.
One of the programs of the JDS is the National Center for Judicial Security and one of its functions is provide protection of the judicial family.
Reports showed that since year 1999, there have been 30 judges killed.
Peralta, who was appointed by President Duterte as the 26th SC Chief Justice last Oct. 23, promised to be a public servant who would lead by example.
Peralta, who is a known advocate of speedy disposition of cases in the judiciary, said the SC and all other courts should work toward the elimination of their case backlogs.
“I have emphasized before that my judicial philosophy has always been to start from home and lead by example, thus in order to achieve this first point, clerk of court will be required to conduct periodic inventory of all the cases pending in their divisions and consult with the court en banc as to how to solve the issue of backlog and other concerns,” he said.
All other courts are expected to continue to comply with existing rules and guidelines pertaining to prescribe periods for trial dates, including promulgation of decisions and other rules geared towards the realization of speedy disposition of cases, he said.
Peralta vowed to sustain the program to weed out misfits from the judiciary and adopt a system where court may initiate on its own the investigation of cases being handled by members of the judiciary even in the absence of complaints.
“In order to do this, I plan to impose timelines in resolving administrative complaints, including complaint initiated by the court and timelines for the court to resolve this complaints,” he stressed.
Peralta also intends to strengthen the Office of the Court Administrator (OCA) and implement the judicial integrity board as soon as possible. This would help the OCA monitor and effectively address the concern of the lower court on matters of infrastructure, communication, lack of personnel, equipment and supplies issues.
He said they would also want to address problems on the inequitable distribution of cases in the lower courts, to create an audit office dedicated to the conduct of judicial audits and to appoint more judicial supervisors to conduct and oversee the said audits and to implement the judicial integrity board and to possibly harmonize its functions with the office of court administrator.
The Chief Justice said that his office would also create a 24/7 help desk in the office of the chief justice and other offices to receive the concern of court users.
They would also monitor the performance of all courts especially their compliance in rules on hearing dates, including the observance of reglementary and prescribed periods to resolve pending incidents.
In order to eliminate the so-called “hoodlums in robes,” Peralta said he is planning to adapt a system where court may initiate investigation of cases being handled by members of the judiciary even if there is no complaint.
Peralta will retire on March 27, 2022.