The fourth in a series of consultation on the draft Case Build-Up Guidelines was successfully concluded last January 04, 2023 at the Justice Hall, Department of Justice (DOJ), with the participation of civil society and non-governmental organizations. Among the participants of the last Round Table Discussion (RTD) were representatives of National Networks of the Child Protection Units, University of the Philippines (UP) Department of Pathology, UP-Philippine General Hospital (PGH) Child Protection Unit, Philippine Society of Criminologist and Criminal Justice Professionals (PSCCJP), Calayan Educational Foundation, Inc. (CEFI), Coalition Against Trafficking of Women (CATW), Kalipunan ng mga Mamamayang Pilipino Laban sa Katiwalian (KASAPI), and Volunteers Against Crime and Corruption (VACC).
Justice Secretary Jesus Crispin C. Remulla intends to introduce the game-changing mechanism on case build-up to elevate the country’s prosecution success rate by improving the current investigation system. “There’s this saying that goes, ‘Why fix it if ain’t broke?!’, but I think there’s something wrong with our system, that’s why we are trying to fix it,” said Secretary Remulla.
Secretary Remulla pointed out some of the issues which pushed him to pursue the improvement of the criminal justice system of the country.
“We have detention facilities full of people with 600% occupancy, correction facilities at 350% occupancy; we have case load of judges reaching unsurmountable levels; we have practices of law enforcement, where filing charges is based on probable cause but without a reasonable certainty that these people charged would be convicted, and their cases drag on for years,” he said.
Close coordination between the prosecutors and law enforcement agencies (LEAs) and higher quantum of proof are the two game-changing paradigms which will be introduced by the guidelines. Aside from the requirement of probable cause, prosecutors will be required to certify that there is reasonable certainty of conviction based on the evidence presented. “The presumption of innocence should not be overturned by a mere probable cause. It has to be a more pro-active stance such that if one would be held to account for a crime, the investigator or prosecutor holding that person accountable should at least be certain that the evidence is enough to convict him,” he added.
The various government agencies and non-governmental organizations expressed strong support to the DOJ’s initiative. “A very promising move by the SOJ,” said VACC. “SOJ’s move to include prosecutors in case build-up will provide better chances for a fair justice for complainants and LEAs. Likewise, an opportunity to generate better image and perception to the justice system in the country.”
Prior series of consultation were held last September 13, 2022, November 22, 2022 and December 06, 2022, with the participation of the Integrated Bar of the Philippines (IBP), Public Attorney’s Office (PAO), National Capital Region (NCR) City Prosecutors, Regional Prosecutors, and representatives of various LEAs such as the National Bureau of Investigation (NBI), Philippine Drug Enforcement Agency (PDEA), Bureau of Customs (BOC), Bureau of Internal Revenue (BIR), Anti-Money Laundering Council (AMLC), Philippine Coast Guard (PCG), and the Anti-Terrorism Council (ATC).
The inputs and recommendations gathered from the consultations will be considered by the Department in the finalization of the draft Department Circular. The DOJ intends to issue the same this month.