SC to Name Special Election Courts; 100 Trial Courts Nationwide Will Be Designated - Puno Supreme Court to Designate Special Election Courts

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Byline: REY G. PANALIGAN & DEXTER A. SEE

BAGUIO CITY -- Chief Justice Reynato S. Puno said here yesterday the Supreme Court (SC) will designate about 100 trial courts nationwide to act as special courts for the expeditious resolution of all election cases that may be filed after the May 14 elections.

Puno said the designation of trial courts to handle exclusively election cases is one of the recommendations to be submitted to the SC by a sub-committee asssigned to propose until April 20, 2007 amendments that would make the resolution of election cases pending before the trial courts "fairer and faster."

He said the SC is merely awaiting the recommendations. "But as far as recommendation on the special courts is concerned, I think the proposal is already approved in principle," he said.

Earlier, the SC designated 99 regional trial courts (RTCs) to handle exclusively cases involving extra-judicial killings of journalists, activists, and members of the judiciary.

Puno said the number of special courts for election cases may be increased depending on the number of cases that may be filed after the elections.

The memorandum order that created the sub-committee under the Committee on the Revision of Rules of Court was signed by Puno, Senior Justice Leonardo A. Quisumbing, and Justice Consuelo Ynares Santiago - chairpersons of the SC's first, second, and third divisions, respectively.

The SC named retired Justice and former Commission on Elections (Comelec) Chairman Bernardo P. Pardo as chairperson of the sub-committee.

The members are retired Court of Appeals (CA) Justice Oscar M. Herrera, Sr., who authored a six- volume treatise on remedial law; CA Justice Remedios A. Salazar-Fernando, herself a former Comelec commissioner; and election lawyers Romulo B. Macalintal, Sixto S. Brillantes, Jr., Pete Q. Quadra, and Leila M. De Lima.

Lawyers Douglas F. Anama and Ma. Emelita S. De Guzman are the subcommittee secretary and assistant secretary, respectively.

The creation of the subcommittee on election rules was an offshoot of the conference Puno had with election lawyers Macalintal, Brillantes, Quadra, and De Lima.

During the conference, the four election lawyers brought to Puno's attention the alleged "corruption committed by certain trial courts in election protest cases assigned in their salas." They also underscored the "need to review the rules in deciding election protests in the trial courts to make them fairer and faster."

"It is imperative to create and organize a subcommittee under the Committee on Revision of the Rules of Courts, which shall propose to the Supreme Court remedial measures, including, but not limited to, the review and updating of existing rules on election cases falling under the jurisdiction of first and second level courts," the SC said in its memorandum order.

High Court berates oil firms for not relocating early

BAGUIO CITY -- The Supreme Court (SC) berated here yesterday the representatives and lawyers of the three oil companies for their failure to find an alternative site for their oil depots located in Pandacan, Manila since 2001 when the Manila City government passed an ordinance for their relocation.

The lawyers of the oil companies were again chastised for belatedly participating in the oil depot case that was filed with the SC in 2002 and whose decision by the court's first division was handed down on March 7, 2007.

During yesterday's public hearing conducted by the SC, four justices of the court's first division - Angelina Sandoval Gutierrez, Renato C. Corona who wrote the March 7, 2007 decision, Adolfo S. Azcuna, and Cancio C. Garcia - took turns in unearthing the reports of negligence on the part of the oil companies in complying with Ordinance No. 8027 passed by the Manila City Council in 2001.

Shortly after the start of the hearing, Chief Justice Reynato S. …