Philippine Development Plan 2011-2016
Justice is no less important a public good than basic education and primary health care. The framework of the rule of law serves as the foundation for a democratic society. Its effect on economic performance, social development and integrity infrastructure of the country is pervasive. Otherwise stated, the rule of law is a cornerstone to the improvement of public health, the safeguarding of citizens’ participation, of security and of the fight against poverty13 (World Justice Project).
According to the World Justice Project Rule of Law Index 2010, however, the Philippines ranked last or close to the bottom among seven indexed Asian countries. The country ranked last in such factors such as “order and security”, “fundamental rights”, and “effective criminal justice”; it was second to the last in the “absence of corruption”, “clear, publicized and stable laws”, “regulatory enforcement”, and “access to civil justice”.14
The weak rule of law and an unresponsive justice system hinder economic development. Delays in resolving corruption cases, the high cost of litigation, and the long and arduous legal process have resulted in the diminution of public trust and confidence in government and the justice system. Another factor affecting investors’ confidence pertains to disputes arising from unmet contractual obligations and the proper enforcement of property rights, including those of foreigners.15 Major reasons for the lack of responsiveness of the justice system include its fragmentation, the presence of archaic laws and rules, and low funding support.
The first order of business must be to address resource constraints. High vacancy rates persist in law enforcement, prosecution, public defence despite efforts to increase compensation. Low salaries coupled with unrealistic qualification standards result in funded but unfilled positions. There is frequently no recourse but to hire casual and contractual employees who cannot be held accountable and do not benefit from the continuous training programs which are required and essential. Huge case backlogs and high case loads are direct consequences. Moreover facilities for justice-sector agencies and the courts are dispersed, inadequately staffed and supplied, and beset at times by cumbersome rules. Reforms in organization and logistics chains are needed to strengthen the support to regional or local offices, agencies, and courts, where the first line of defence is drawn.
In an attempt to reduce the load of the courts, the Alternative Dispute Resolution (ADR) Act (RA 9285) was passed in 2004. However, there is a need to continuously encourage and actively promote the use of ADR for it to live up to its promise as “an important means to achieve speedy and efficient resolution of disputes”.16 http://www.neda.gov.ph/PDP/2011-2016/governance.pdf