The justices of the Supreme Court have been drowning in cases. As of 2004, the last year they gave us information through the Philippine Statistical Yearbook, their case backlog (defined as case load minus case outflow) was 6,882 cases. Divide that by 15 justices, and that means an average of 458 cases each that the justices haven’t disposed of yet.
Meanwhile, new cases are coming in. Has this backlog been reduced? Not if we go by the high court’s case disposition rate (ratio of total cases decided/resolved in a year, over the total cases filed), which in 2003 and 2004 was 0.97. For the mathematically challenged, that means the backlog is growing.
All this is by way of introduction. Each justice has so many to take charge of that he/she usually doesn’t want to get involved with someone else’s case by way of giving a dissenting or concurring opinion, unless it is of great moment. Just take a look at the decisions handed down each month (sc.judiciary.gov.ph) to see how few and far between those are.
That is why the decision in the case involving Regina O. Reyes vs. Comelec and Joseph Socorro B. Tan (GR 207264) caught my eye. There were three dissenting opinions and two separate concurring opinions. That’s like the pork barrel case, for heaven’s sake. Not only that. What made me sit up and take notice were the names of the dissenters: Arturo Brion, Antonio Carpio, and Marvic Leonen, who I consider to be three of the high court’s intellectual heavyweights.