MANILA, Philippines - The Supreme Court (SC) has issued guidelines to decongest holding jails and enforce the rights of a person to bail and have a speedy trial.
The SC ordered all trial courts, public prosecutors, public attorneys, private practitioners and others involved in protecting the rights of the accused to follow the guidelines.
It said the move is in line with Section 13 of the Constitution, which stated that “all persons, except those charged with offenses punishable by reclusion perpetua when evidence of guilt is strong, shall before conviction be bailable by sufficient sureties or released or recognized as the law may provide.”
It would be the duty of the court to fix the appropriate bail, the SC said.
It will also take into account the public prosecutor’s recommendation and any relevant data that the court may find from the criminal information.
“The trial court, the private or public prosecutor and the defense counsel, subject to the excluded delays specified in Rule 119 of the Rules of Court and the Speedy Trial Act of 1998, will have to follow time limits in the prosecution of the case against a detained.“
The SC said the case of the accused should also be raffled and referred to the trial court to which it is assigned within three days from filing of information.
The court shall arraign the accused within 10 days from date of raffle and hold a pre-trial conference within 30 days after arraignment or 10 days if the accused is under preventive detention.
Courts will also have to terminate the regular trial within 180 days, or trial by affidavit within 60 days, reckoned from the date trial begins, minus the delays or postponements as specified in Rule 119 of the Rules of Court and the Speedy Trial Act of 1998.