Sunday, May 25, 2014

Senate backs bill extending prescriptive period for graft cases, says Drilon

MANILA-In another move to add more teeth to the Aquino administration’s campaign against corruption, Senate President Franklin M. Drilon underscored the need to double the prescriptive period for the prosecution of graft cases from 15 to 30 years.   

The Senate chief said Upper Chamber fully supports House Bill No. 4146 that would increase the prescriptive period giving judicial authorities more time to prosecute unresolved graft cases within 30 years. The bill was recently approved on third and final reading by the House of Representatives.

"Our justice system can only be a strong deterrent against possible malfeasance if we demonstrate that no matter the passing of years, a crime remains a crime and those who committed them must answer for them,” stressed Drilon.

The former Justice Secretary said the bill would empower and capacitate judicial authorities to commence prosecution of corrupt officials within 30 years from the commission of the crime.

Under the current system, a 15-year prescription is being observed in the filing of graft cases and after such period, the government may no longer prosecute graft cases.  

"We must not let time hinder our quest for justice. It is imperative then that we legislate the necessary reforms that will strengthen our justice and legal system,” said Drilon.

Drilon said that the bill, along with other anti-corruption measures, is “a manifestation of the determination of Congress to stamp-out corruption in the country, especially in light of the recent controversy regarding the pork barrel funds.”

Drilon also noted that the proposed measure will complement the amendments to the Sandiganbayan Law recently passed by Senate in third and final reading, saying that the enactment of the two bills into law are crucial in the fight against corruption.

Drilon said the Sandiganbayan Charter is seen “to hasten the disposition of cases in the anti-graft court, which now has a backlog of 3,000 cases which would take five or more years before they are promulgated.

The Senate leader said that the amendments will address the limitations encountered by the Sandiganbayan, “which is supposed to be the front-runner in the fight against corruption.”

“Despite the numerous advancements that have been incorporated in our judicial system through the years, justice continues to be as elusive as it has been during the infancy of our republic. As our judicial structure becomes more ingenious, so does graft and other malfeasance,” Drilon said.

He noted that the Sandiganbayan Law or Presidential Decree No. 1606 last underwent legislative scrutiny almost 20 years ago: “The result is that a case in the Sandiganbayan now takes about an average offive to eight years to litigate and resolve.”
“If we are to outrun graft and corruption, it is imperative that we resuscitate and recondition our existing prosecutorial and adjudicatory institutions against this opponent,” he concluded.


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