By Rey Panaligan
Chief Justice Diosdado M. Peralta has reminded all trial courts to strictly observe session hours and hearing dates, including periods to resolve pending cases.
In Memorandum Order No, 74-2019 dated Nov. 4, 2019, Peralta said the directive to all trial court judges is in line with his 10-point agenda as head of the judiciary.
The memorandum states: “All lower courts are strictly enjoined to comply with the rules on session hours and hearing dates, including the reglementary or prescribed periods to resolve pending cases and incidents, as provided for under the Constitution, the laws, rules of procedure, guidelines and other administrative issues.”
Earlier, Peralta had said that the de-clogging of all court dockets, from the Supreme Court (SC) down to the lower courts, is the priority in his agenda.
Thousands of cases are pending resolution not only in the trial courts but also in the appellate courts and the SC, itself, based on data available at the Office of the Court Administrator.
To achieve the de-clogging of court dockets, Peralta said clerks of court in the SC “will be required to conduct periodic inventory of all the cases pending in their divisions and consult with the court en banc (full court) as to how to solve the issue of backlog and other concerns.”
As far as the other courts are concerned, the Chief Justice said “all other courts must continue to comply with existing rules and guidelines pertaining to prescribe periods for trial dates, including promulgation of decisions and other rules geared towards the realization of speedy disposition of cases.”
In the same memorandum, Peralta reminded judges to prohibit the use or cellular telephones and other electronic communication gadgets while the courts are in session.
‘’In order to maintain orderly proceedings and trial, and in the best interest of service, the use of cellular phones while the court is in session is strictly prohibited. The use of other electronic communication devices not related to the ongoing proceedings or trial is likewise prohibited,” Peralta said in his memorandum.
Peralta’s predecessor, retired Chief Justice Lucas P. Bersamin, had earlier banned the use of cellular telephones by all court personnel during office hours.
“Let us avoid using cellular telephones while on duty. It’s shameful…,” Bersamin had directed all court personnel.