The Supreme Court has warned judges of commercial courts against what Finance Secretary Carlos Dominguez III described as “questionable trend of unwarranted delay or circumvention of court proceedings” in the handling of commercial cases.
In a circular issued by Court Administrator Jose Midas Marquez, the SC through the Office of the Court Administrator has enjoined commercial court judges to resolve cases within the reglementary period or face administrative sanctions for failing to do so.
Marquez, who exercises administrative supervision over lower courts and judges, strongly reminded judges of commercial courts to comply strictly with the provision of Republic Act 10142, or the law on the Rehabilitation or Liquidation of Financially Distressed Enterprises and Individuals, since a violation “constitutes gross inefficiency and warrants the imposition of administrative sanctions against the erring magistrate.”
Under Section 72 of RA 10142, designated commercial court judges have one year to act on the cases brought before them.
SC has designated a total of 147 regional trial courts in the country as special commercial courts to handle exclusively cases like rehabilitation, insolvency and liquidation filed by firms and individuals.
Marquez issued the circular after Sec. Dominguez sent a letter asking the OCA to “ensure that courts comply with their mandate” considering “the delay in the resolution of various commercial cases….”
In his letter, Dominguez cited the case of Land Bank of the Philippines, “a creditor party in numerous rehabilitation and insolvency proceedings where there appears to be a questionable trend of unwarranted delay and/or circumvention of court proceedings.”
“Some case proceedings may have been deliberately delayed” and “have remained pending for more than one year without any approved rehabilitation plans,” the Finance Secretary lamented.
In his circular, Marquez cited an SC ruling that directed all judges to “remain in full control of the proceedings in their sala and should adopt a firm policy against improvident postponements and should follow the time limit set for deciding cases.”
“Failure to decide cases and other matters within the reglementary period constitute gross inefficiency and warrants the imposition of administrative sanctions against the erring magistrate,” the OCA circular stated.
Since the start of the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) pandemic, the SC has directed all courts to utilize video conferencing in hearings and deciding cases.
The SC has also allowed the online filing of pleadings and other documents required by the courts.