A contingent from the Department of Justice (DOJ), led by Secretary of Justice Jesus Crispin C. Remulla with Undersecretary Raul T. Vasquez, Assistant Secretary Randolph A. Pascasio, Senior Deputy State Prosecutor Hazel C. Decena-Valdez, Assistant State Prosecutor Loverhette Jeffrey P. Villordon, and Prosecution Attorney Danica R. Manalastas, attended the most recent leg of the Justice Sector Coordinating Council (JSCC) Justice Zone Dialogue Series in Baguio City last January 11, 2023.
Also present were JSCC co-principals Supreme Court (SC) Chief Justice Alexander G. Gesmundo and Department of the Interior and Local Government (DILG) Secretary Benjamin C. Abalos, Jr.
As JSCC co-principal, Secretary Remulla delivered a speech regarding the Philippine criminal justice system, in perspective. He highlighted important initiatives that the Department has been undertaking, such as the move to increase the degree of proof necessary for the filing of criminal cases in court. Under this new set-up, prosecutors shall no longer file cases merely on the basis of a finding of “probable cause,” but on the existence of a “reasonable certainty of conviction,” or prima facie evidence. As a result, this reform is expected to help decongest the court dockets and the jails.
Secretary Remulla likewise underscored the importance of case build-up, seeking stronger coordination and cooperation between the prosecution and law enforcement agencies (LEAs) in the investigation of heinous crimes, capital offenses, and drugs cases, with the end-goal of ensuring the filing of high-quality cases with a reasonable certainty of conviction. Accordingly, the plan of the Department is to launch a Case Build-Up Rule sometime in February of this year, followed by a series of lectures to capacitate the National Prosecution Service (NPS) as well as the Philippine National Police (PNP).
JSCC co-principals Chief Justice Gesmundo and Secretary Abalos, Jr., for their part, expressed their full support and concurrence with the initiatives of the DOJ. They likewise gave their own messages in behalf of the SC and the DILG, respectively.