The Department of Justice issues guidelines to prosecutors on the assessment of pending criminal cases for offenses within the jurisdiction of the first-level courts namely Municipal Trial Courts, Municipal Trial Courts in Cities, and Metropolitan Trial Courts.

Department Circular No. 16 is the executing rules for the proper implementation of previously issued DC No. 008-A which directed all prosecutors handling M-level criminal cases to determine the certainty of success.

This raises the long-standing legal burden of proof for filing criminal information in court. The court will now require the burden of proof to be probable cause coupled with reasonable certainty of conviction.

The low burden of proof has brought about an overwhelming number of criminal cases filed in court which often caused temporary detention of many individuals who are eventually acquitted because of the prosecution’s failure to prove guilt beyond a reasonable doubt in court. This also leads to congestion in detention centers which can be avoided if the standard of reasonable certainty of conviction has a higher level of confidence in the evidence and the likelihood of obtaining a conviction.

Prosecutors were also directed 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.

The newest reform is in line with the goal to decongest court dockets and is “in view of the department’s policy direction to only file cases with a reasonable certainty of conviction.”

Previously, DOJ has also mandated the reduction of bail for indigent Filipinos facing charges to address the long-standing issue of overcrowding in prisons.

Secretary Remulla has directed prosecutors to “consider the financial capacity of the accused when recommending the amount of bail in a criminal information for filing in court.”

These various reforms are being implemented by the judiciary to promote the interest of social justice and provide justice for all.” (KSAA – PIA CPSD)

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