Sandiganbayan goes digital to shorten case disposition time

The Sandiganbayan will digitize its records to shorten the duration of its corruption case proceedings to an average of one year.

Presiding Justice Amparo M. Cabotaje-Tang, in a speech on Tuesday, expressed hope that “someday, we reach an average case duration of only one year.”

The antigraft court’s Modernization and Transparency Initiative is funded by the Australian Embassy and planned with The Asia Foundation.

The initiative consists of a legal information archive—a searchable database of Sandiganbayan decisions and resolutions and related Supreme Court rulings—as well as a publicly accessible electronic calendar.

A data-encrypted case management system is also being developed.

“While all these automated initiatives shall necessarily increase public pressure for us to resolve cases with greater dispatch, I am confident that our court shall be equal to the task,” Tang said.

Tang also noted that the Revised Guidelines for Continuous Trial of Criminal Cases issued by the Supreme Court last year “will aid in the expeditious adjudication of cases before the Sandiganbayan.”

Currently, the Sandiganbayan already uploads its decisions and resolutions and posts the division assignments of newly-raffled cases to its website 24 hours.

The digitization of all court documents is expected to address the issues of transferring voluminous stacks whenever a case is assigned to a new justice.

It is also expected to help in locating documents whenever they are requested by the litigants.

The move would also address the issue of conflicting decisions, especially in the application of the so-called inordinate delay doctrine involving cases where the Ombudsman’s investigations have allegedly taken too long.

“In our research, we can access our own decision, resolutions. That way, we will be consistent in our decisions,” Tang told reporters at the sidelines of the launch.

Tang could not yet give a target date for the initiative to be incorporated into the website. But, she said the database would “for the use of the justices and their staff for now.”

“Our plan is to make it open also to the public. We hope we’ll be able to do it as soon as we can,” she said.   /vvp

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