DAVAO CITY (MindaNews/08 March) – Sarangani province has started constructing two of its five new Regional Trial Court salas in the capitol grounds in Alabel town even as the Supreme Court also trained barangay leaders and municipal judges to strengthen mediation and settle small claims at their own level.
The three other salas are already in the pipeline and will be built in Glan, Malungon and Kiamba towns.
The Sarangani Provincial Office said that Supreme Court Chief Justice Renato Corona graced the groundbreaking rites of the two salas on March 2, after Congress enacted Republic Act 10123 which provides for five additional RTC branches in Sarangani.
Senator Francisco Pangilinan had put up a P3-million support fund for the P8-million project.
Provincial legal officer Atty. Arnel Zapatos said the new court salas would increase accessibility and speedy resolution of cases “for justice to be served”.
“That is its impact. All these efforts are support towards strengthening and sustaining peace and order in the province,” he said.
The SC meanwhile has trained barangay officials and the women sector to strengthen the mediation and resolution of conflicts at their level and help unclog the regular courts. Corona spoke to them on the topic of small claim.
“According to a study by the Supreme Court, small claim cases (lower than P100,000) clog the dockets in regional and municipal trial courts. To unclog the dockets, new rules and procedures in small claims direct municipal trial courts to mediate those cases,” Zapatos said.
The Sarangani judges would also be sent to the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (ARMM) to attend a dialogue on court infrastructures with SC administrator Jose Midas Marquez. No date has been set for the dialogue which will be held at the Kasfala Hall.
The Sarangani Provincial Legal Office has adapted the Justice Enhancement and Empowerment Program (Jeep) that included putting up the Provincial Mediation Center in 2007, implementing the Justice on Wheels (JOWs) mobile court in 2008, and creating additional trial courts and Halls of Justice in the province through RA 10123.
Jeep was initiated in 2007 “in order to help support the provincial initiatives in promoting social justice by focusing its interventions to the provincial jail and to the lone regional trial of the province,” the program briefer said.
Since 2008, the Justice on Wheels has decreased the number of inmates at the provincial jail by 64 percent from 600 to 216 inmates in December 2010. (MindaNews)