The Supreme Court will expand its so-called “continuous trial system” for criminal cases in all trial courts across the country.
The high court expanded the implementation of the system which aims to expedite the resolution of criminal cases and declog court dockets.
Following the successful pilot testing in 52 first and second level courts in Metro Manila since the system was launched in September 2014, the SC resolved to implement the same in all trial courts nationwide.
“The Revised Guidelines for Continuous Trial of Criminal Cases shall apply to all newly filed criminal cases, including those governed by special laws and rules, in the first and second level courts, the Sandiganbayan and the Court of Tax Appeals as of effectivity date. The Revised Guidelines shall also apply to pending criminal cases with respect to pending proceedings,” the SC said in its new guidelines.
The guidelines were adopted upon the recommendation of a special committee on speedy trial chaired by Associate Justice Diosdado Peralta.
The tribunal cited the finding of the American Bar Association Rule of Law Initiative, which conducted a results analysis on the project testing in 2015, that “specific procedural and case management reforms have a notable effect in reducing case processing time.”
This finding was affirmed by another development partner, The Asia Foundation, in a report last year showing a “clear and significant improvement in reducing the duration of criminal proceedings and improving the trial courts’ compliance with the periods and timelines for trial set in the Rules of Court and Laws.”
The continuous trial project was initiated by the SC under Chief Justice Maria Lourdes Sereno and is supported by the United States Agency for International Development.
The project is designed to cut trial duration in criminal cases from the usual three to five years to just around three months.
Under the system, trial should be held from Monday to Thursday and courts must call the cases at exactly 8:30 a.m. for morning hearings and 2 p.m. for afternoon hearings.