Nationwide round-up (03/10/21)

SC tallies cases involving attacks on lawyers, judges

THE Supreme Court (SC) has ordered lower courts to provide information on all pending cases involving attacks on judges, prosecutors, and lawyers in the country as part of the response to address growing concern on the safety of members of the judicial sector. The high court issued a circular on Tuesday instructing judges of first and second level courts to accomplish an online nationwide survey on criminal cases relating to the harassment, threats, attack, and killing of those in the legal profession. The circular, signed by Court Administrator Jose Midas P. Marquez, aims to make an inventory of such cases, including lawyers in private practice. This survey, with a Mar. 19 deadline, is in line with the memorandum of Chief Justice Diosdado M. Peralta in January directing the Office of the Court Administrator “to address the growing concern over the continued attacks against lawyers and judges.” Lawyers’ groups Integrated Bar of the Philippines and the National Union of People’s Lawyers (NUPL) have been making appeals to address the security of lawyers. According to NUPL, at least 54 lawyers and judges have been killed since the Duterte administration started in 2016. — Bianca Angelica D. Anago

Only 11% pass 2020 Shari’ah Bar exam, lowest in 37 years

OF the 654 examinees for the 2020 Shari’ah Bar exams, only 71 or 10.86% passed, the Supreme Court announced Tuesday. Court of Appeals Justice Japar B. Dimaampao, chair of last year’s Shari’ah Bar examination committee, said the result “will go down in history as the second lowest passing percentage” since 1983 when 14 out of 182 examinees, or 7.69%, passed. The topnotcher of the 2020 examination is Mohammad Hisham M. Mocsir with a score of 87.075%. Shari’ah Courts, which are under the supervision of the Supreme Court, handle cases involving Islamic beliefs. The establishment of these courts is in line with the Philippine Constitution, which provides that, “The State shall consider the customs, traditions, beliefs and interests of national cultural communities in the formulation and implementation of state policies.” — Bianca Angelica D. Anago

OWWA says additional funds needed to cover quarantine costs of OFWs

THE Department of Labor and Employment (DoLE) has asked the national government for additional funds to cover the quarantine costs of returning overseas Filipino workers (OFWs) following new protocols on the isolation period. Overseas Workers Welfare Administrator Hans Leo J. Cacdac said the P6.2-billion allocation for the hotel, COVID-19 swab test, transport, and food of returning OFWs might be depleted soon. “We project by April or May, maubos ang 2021 budget na (we might finish the 2021 budget),” he said in a virtual briefing on Wednesday. He explained that the new protocol issued as precautionary measure against the new coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) variants requires OFWs to wait six days in quarantine hotels before they undergo a swab test. Under the previous protocol, testing is conducted immediately upon arrival and OFWs with a negative result are allowed to go home. Mr. Cacdac said Labor Secretary Silvestre H. Bello III has already written the Department of Budget and Management for a supplemental budget. — Gillian M. Cortez


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