Three pilot programs that the ABA Rule of Law Initiative (ABA ROLI) is supporting in Quezon City’s first level courts are bearing significant results in decongesting the city’s 33 courts. These include the eCourt program, an automated case management information system designed to increase transparency and efficiency while radically boosting courts’ monitoring and tracking capacity; new practice guidelines designed to reduce postponements and delays in court procedures; and a one-time case-decongestion strategy intended to dispose of or archive cases that have lingered on court dockets, the latter of which is spearheaded by ABA ROLI sub-grantee, The Asia Foundation, have helped to alleviate court congestion and case delay.
By the end of 2012, Quezon City, one of the most prominent economic centers of the Philippines, had severely congested courts. That year, the city alone accounted for almost 25% (41,137) of the total 167,836 pending cases in the National Capital Judicial Region. Highlighting the serious backlog, more than 44,723 of the city’s pending cases were carried over from 2011 to 2012, while 41,261 cases were carried over from 2012 to 2013. Even with these measures, Quezon City currently has one of the largest numbers of pending cases in the country.
The multi-faceted court-decongestion effort began with the introduction of the eCourt system in 2012. Currently, all of the city’s courts are using the system, which helps to enhance transparency and efficiency in case processing and to expedite disposal of pending cases. Additionally, the one-time decongestion effort in 33 Quezon City courts has resulted in the disposal and archival of 9,282 cases, or 29.4% of participating courts’ total pending cases.
In May, Quezon City metropolitan trial courts (QC MeTCs) reported significant reduction in their pending cases. Eleven of the 13 QC MeTCs experienced significant reduction in their pending caseload, while six of them reported less than 1,000 pending cases each. Edgardo Bellosillo, executive judge of Quezon City MeTCs, attributes much of the success to the collaborative, multi-pronged initiative. “The three efforts definitely contributed to faster case processing time and immediate action on priority cases,” he said.
Supported by the U.S. Agency for International Development, ABA ROLI’s court-decongestion initiatives will be rolled out in additional locales around the country.
To learn more about our work in the Philippines, contact the ABA Rule of Law Initiative at [email protected].