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INTRODUCTION Justice is sweet and musical; but injustice is harsh and discordant. -Henry David Thoreau

There is this popular legal saying by British statesman William Gladstone that justice delayed is justice denied. The saying is short and sweet, but undeniably true as far as the Philippine judicial system is concerned. One of the main concerns or problems in our judicial system is the huge number of cases being filed in the lower courts. These cases piles up year after year up to the point that the court itself have a huge backlog of undecided cases. This affects greatly not only the court but also the Filipino people. Many are denied justice right from the very start of litigation. Many lose confidence and trust in the judicial system, knowing that going to the court is tantamount to months or years of waiting and frustration. This does not only affect our fellow Filipinos, but also foreigners who are in the country for business or investment. Foreigners not only have to deal with the volatile political situation in the country, but also the slow legal processes that they usually undergo. The slow pace of our legal process most often than not, lead foreigners to invest somewhere else, like better-off Asian neighbors Thailand and Malaysia. The Supreme Court recognizes the problem so to address this, they promulgated AM No. 12-8-8-SC or the Judicial Affidavit Rule. The Judicial Affidavit Rule is designed to solve the problems in our judicial system and have shown great results in its initial application reducing about two-thirds of the time for the presentation of witnesses in a proceeding. In this report, we will tackle the advantages as well as the disadvantages of the Judicial Affidavit Rule.

ADVANTAGES OF JUDICIAL AFFIDAVIT RULE 1. The Judicial Affidavit Rule aims to decongest the courts with huge volume of cases. The Judicial affidavit rule was designed with a purpose, that is, to speed up the judicial processes in our courts. As substantially provided in the rule, judicial affidavits will replace direct examinations. The witness is immediately readied for cross-examination as soon as the purpose of a witness testimony is announced and questions about its admissibility are resolved. Redirect may be done by the party who presented the witness if necessary. Deputy Court Administrator Raul Villanueva said that the rule will cut the presentation of witnesses, which accounts for much of a trials length, by 50 percent. 2. The Judicial Affidavit Rule aims to speed up judicial processes in all court actions/ proceedings. As substantially stipulated under Section 1 of the Judicial Affidavit Rule, this rule shall apply to all actions, proceedings, and incidents requiring the reception of evidence before the Metropolitan Trial Court, Municipal Trial Court in Cities, Municipal Trial Courts, Municipal Circuit Trial Courts, and the Sharia Circuit Courts, Regional Trial Courts and the Sharia District Courts, and even the Sandiganbayan, the Court of Tax Appeals, the Court of Appeals, and the Sharia Appellate Courts as well as investigating bodies authorized by the Supreme Court to receive evidence including the Integrated Bar of the Philippines. The scope of the Judicial Affidavit Rule is really aimed at considerably speeding up the judicial processes not only at the lower level courts, but also up to the level of the Sandiganbayan and Court of Appeals. 3. The Judicial Affidavit Rule provides for strict compliance to ensure speedy judicial processes.

To ensure that purpose of Judicial Affidavit Rule is followed, the rule provides for strict compliance of its provisions. If the counsels of either party fail to follow the rule, it will have repercussions in their case. As substantially provided in Section 10 of the rule, a party who fails to submit the required judicial affidavits and exhibits on time shall be deemed to have a waived their submission, unless the delay was caused by a valid reason. The defaulting party shall be liable to pay a fine of not less than P1,000 nor more than P5,000, at the discretion of the Court. 4. Allows the Judge to assess quickly whether or not to grant bail when bail is a matter of discretion by reading through all of the submitted affidavits. According to Section 2 of the Judicial Affidavit Rule, it is substantially provided therein that the parties shall file with the court and the adverse party not later than (5) five days before pre-trial or preliminary conference or the scheduled hearing the judicial affidavits of their witnesses and the parties documentary or object evidences attached to the judicial affidavits with proper markings. Reading through the said provision, the Court can now decide issues swiftly whether or not to grant bail when bail is a matter of discretion. The Court can go through all the judicial affidavits of the parties, weigh the merits thereof, and intelligently grant or not a grant a bail without even going to the pre-trial proper. 5. To attract foreign businessmen to make long-term investment in the Philippines knowing that their investments are protected by a fast judicial process. The Judicial Affidavit Rule also aims to protect foreign investors that are caught in the slow pace of our judicial process. Foreign businessmens investments are often turned-off to invest in our country not only because of corruption but also because of the length of time

that they are to appear before our courts concerning their cases that would take years to resolve. According to an online article of the American Bar Association, the said new litigation rule can reduce trial times where cases take an average of six years to resolve. This will considerably reduce the foot-dragging that foreign investors usually experience when they are subjected to our court proceedings. Foreign investors will have a peace of mind that they dont have to expect that their cases will drag on for years, and would-be foreign investors will have a restored faith in our judicial processes. (http://www.americanbar.org/advocacy/rule_of_law/where_we_work/a sia/philippines/news/news_philippines_supreme_court_adopts_judicial_ affidavit_rule_0912.html) 6. The submitted judicial affidavit promotes greater accuracy in the recording of the direct testimony since the court stenographer and interpreter, who may occasionally experience some kind of a drought in English terminologies, are taken out of the equation, at least, during this phase. 7. Also, the rule permits and compels the early taking and preservation of the witnesses testimony, which may otherwise have a hard time remembering details of events which took place months or years past.

DISADVANTAGES OF JUDICIAL AFFIDAVIT RULE 1. Judicial affidavits was also more time consuming than conducting direct examination of witnesses. The preparation of the judicial affidavit takes more time than conducting direct examination in court because affiants have to be subpoenaed and interviewed before the prosecutor could prepare their judicial affidavit." While it is true that there was a positive feedback and success to the pilot testing conducted in Quezon City Courts to determine whether or not judicial affidavit was feasible and/or that would be successful in Metro Manila areas, this was so because there were sufficient number of prosecutors in the area unlike in the provinces with too few prosecutors. "The prosecutors in the regional, provincial and city prosecution offices have limited time to prepare judicial affidavits because they are already saddled with heavy workloads, such as trial, including criminal and special proceedings cases; preliminary investigation, inquest proceedings and summary investigation (direct filing), the oppositors said. It said the SCs successful experiment in Quezon City on the JAR cannot apply to prosecution offices with lesser number of prosecutors. (newsinfo/INQUIRER.net, January 2013) 2. It will diminish the power of the judge to assess the credibility of witnesses. As what has been the practice, a trial Judge will either believe or ignore the weight of a testimony depending on the demeanor of the witness or witnesses primarily on direct examination. With the implementation of the judicial affidavits, this will now be downplayed. Furthermore, the use of judicial affidavits will minimize the outburst of emotion on the part of witnesses on stand. Hence, this may

impact on the amount of moral and exemplary damages that a private complainant may recover in a criminal case. As noted, moral damages are awarded for the sorrow, fright and sleepless nights suffered by complainants, while exemplary damages are those awarded to show others, by way of example, that similar conduct will be hardly observed, if not totally unrecognized, by our Courts.