Why is IBP Catanduanes silent on the situation at Virac RTC?
posted 18-Feb-2019  ·  
546 views  ·   0 comments  ·  

Despite the return of Regional Trial Court Branch 43 Presiding Judge Lelu P. Contreras from a brief suspension, the administration of justice on the island has yet to regain its former pace.

True, the Supreme Court designated an RTC judge in the province of Albay as executive judge and acting presiding judge of RTC Branch 42, but the latter has yet to set foot on the province and perform her duties pursuant to the High Court en banc’s wishes.

According to official sources at the Hall of Justice, the judge-designate has asked the SC to reconsider her designation for undisclosed personal reasons. The High Court has decided on the matter, it is claimed, but the judge’s office has yet to receive the resolution.

It has been nearly four months now since this state of affairs unfolded much to the consternation and frustration of litigants, especially suspects in criminal cases which have yet to be raffled off to the two branches.

While the executive judge-designate signs documents pertaining to the Virac RTC’s administrative matters in her mainland office, the new cases filed by the Provincial Prosecution Office languishes at the Office of the Clerk of Court. There are now 170 such cases, with more being filed week after week.

Appeals have been made to the Office of the Court Administrator to resolve the delay, including a suggestion to bring the entire load of new cases to Legazpi City for raffling by the judge-designate, but the OCA maintains the files cannot be taken out of the Hall of Justice for the purpose.

It is not only the litigants who are inconvenienced by the court standstill. The ordinary citizen who only wants documents notarized is also hampered by the inability of some local lawyers to perform their notary functions, as their applications for renewal have to be heard and approved by the executive judge.

Considering the time that has passed since this all started, it is particularly vexing to consider the silence of the Integrated Bar of the Philippines (IBP) Catanduanes Chapter on the matter.

For a professional group whose livelihood depends on the smooth functioning of the courts, the IBP local chapter’s inaction on the unfortunate situation of its members is baffling. Or are some of its officers, who are unaffected by the whole thing, secretly wishing it goes on for months since they would get all the notary income?

Perhaps, if it really looks after the welfare of its members and desires to see the wheels of justice rolling, the IBP Catanduanes chapter could convene in the earliest time possible and at least pass a resolution asking the Supreme Court to resolve the situation immediately.

It can appeal for the temporary designation of Judge Contreras as executive judge just so the 170 cases awaiting raffle could be acted upon, or it could designate another judge from Albay who is willing to come across Maqueda channel and finally put an end to this deplorable situation at the Hall of Justice.


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