SUPREME Court Chief Justice Renato Corona said Thursday that his exclusion from President Benigno Aquino III’s executive order for the revocation of midnight appointments proves that he is not a "midnight appointee."     

 

The Chief Justice explained that a certain constitutional provision exempts the Supreme Court from "midnight appointments" because the work of the judiciary cannot be hampered. 

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“That is the rationale, that Constitutional provision. It’s a new provision under the 1987 constitution,” said Corona.

 

Corona also assured that the judiciary enjoys a harmonious relationship with the President.  

“It has always been harmonious. I have been saying this since day one that the judiciary is not his enemy. We’re ready to cooperate for a better Philippines,” he stressed.

  

“We’re here to support the government but we also have our own work to do. If he (President Noynoy) is right, we uphold him.  If he is wrong, we tell him gently, you’re wrong,” he added. 

 

Corona brought to Bacolod City on Thursday two buses or mobile courts for the "Justice on Wheels" (JOW) program as part of the Supreme Court’s Enhanced Access to Justice by the Poor program.

After the Bacolod stint, the mobile courts will proceed to Dumaguete City, Negros Oriental, and to Cebu. 

 

The JOW is a program created by the High Court to reach out to poor Filipinos and expedite litigation of cases they are involved in.

 

"We are talking here of people who have been in prison beyond the time that should have been imposed on them, particularly those who should have been released long  ago but, for one reason or another, still remain in jail," the Chief Justice explained.

 

There are also cases when the complainants have lost interest in the case and they do not appear in court anymore. The accused in these cases often do not have lawyers to advise them of their right to a speedy trial. Through this program, the Supreme Court hopes to deliver justice to the accused, Corona added. 

Moreover, Corona disclosed that there is a backlog of about 600,000 cases at the Lower Courts all over the country. There is also a 20 percent shortage in the total required number of judges in the country, intimating that the lack of judges is a major hindrance in expediting the delivery of justice. 

 

Corona lamented that though Congress approves the creation of new court branches to address the backlog, the judiciary can not immediately implement the expansion of court services because it still has to ask for approval and wait for the release of the necessary funds from the Department of Budget and Management.

 

“The backlog is going to increase by leaps and bounds if we don’t do anything,” the Chief Justice lamented. (Teresa Ellera-Dulla)