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Lawyer’s group urges courts to fast-track cases of detained drug suspects

PHILIPPINE STAR/ JOVEN CAGANDE

A VOLUNTARY organization of human rights lawyers and law students that provides free legal assistance to the marginalized sector has called on local courts to fast-track cases against detained drug suspects who have been awaiting trial for years.  

“For the nameless and disadvantaged, the right to speedy trial and disposition of cases is an illusion, such that if it becomes a reality for a few lucky ones,” the National Union of People’s Lawyers (NUPL) said in a statement on Saturday.  

The NUPL cited a Last Piñas City trial court’s swift acquittal of the son of Justice Secretary Jesus Crispin C. Remulla from drug charges as a sign that Philippine courts are capable of resolving cases in a timely manner.  

The court dismissed the illegal drug possession charges against the younger Remulla, which were filed less than three months ago, due to lack of evidence of him knowing he had received marijuana.   

The Justice chief earlier said he would not meddle or interfere in his son’s legal proceedings. 

NUPL said courts should also afford the same timely and immediate justice to suspects who do not have prominent names.  

The Commission on Audit has noted in a 2019 report that the congestion and overpopulation in Philippine jails was due to the increasing number of drug-related suspects and the slow progress of cases in court.   

At least 6,117 suspected drug dealers had also been killed in police operations, according to data released by the Philippine government in June 2021.  

The Justice secretary earlier told the United Nations Human Rights Council that his agency aims to raise the success rate of criminal prosecution in the Philippines, which he acknowledged was prone to delays.  

“Indeed, the swift, expedient and orderly administration of justice should be accorded to all,” the NUPL said. — John Victor D. Ordoñez

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