DOJ to Fiscals: Pursue winnable cases only

The Department of Justice (DOJ) on Friday formally directed its fiscals and prosecutors to pursue winnable cases only and withdraw cases where the chances of conviction are slim.

DOJ Department Circular No. 008 said the move will significantly decongest court dockets and is “in view of the department’s policy direction to only file cases with a reasonable certainty of conviction.”

The order directed fiscals to “carefully assess all their cases and to determine if each has a reasonable certainty of conviction based on the evidence in hand, availability of witnesses and continued interest of private complainants.”

“If upon assessment by the handling prosecutor, it is determined that there is no such reasonable certainty of conviction, the said handling prosecutor is ordered to immediately file the proper motion to withdraw (the) information,” DOJ Secretary Jesus Crispin Remulla said in a statement.

DOJ spokesperson Mico Clavano said Remulla’s policy is to file only quality cases or cases that will yield convictions. “The gap between probable cause and proof beyond reasonable doubt is too wide. As a result, the conviction rate suffers. The congestion rate in jails balloons as well. It happens too often that persons are committed to jail and then eventually released after they are acquitted,” he said.

Clavano pointed out that government resources are wasted when weak cases are filed. “These problems, among others, can be solved by filing only cases with a reasonable certainty of conviction,” he said, adding that an amendment of court rules on preliminary investigation “is forthcoming as the Supreme Court has agreed to let DOJ take the lead.

Likely to be removed is Rule 112 from the Rules of Court, under which, when a person is lawfully arrested without a warrant involving an offense that requires a preliminary investigation, the complaint may be filed by a prosecutor without need of such investigation provided an inquest has been conducted.