Senator Franklin Drilon on Wednesday urged the judiciary to immediately fill-up the vacant positions in a bid to speed up the disposition of pending cases and declog court dockets.

Drilon, chairman of the Senate Finance Committee that tackled the proposed P13.675 billion budget of the judiciary, said that about 550 judicial positions remained vacant for years, affecting the disposition rate of the courts.

The vacancies, Drilon said, represent about 25% of the total judges position in the entire judiciary.

“We are concerned about the very serious disposition rate of our courts,” said Drilon.

Citing the report of Court Administrator Midas Marquez, Drilon said the disposition rate of the entire judiciary stood at 37.5% in 2010, where only 380,490 cases have been resolved out of the total 1,012,817 pending cases.

The anti-graft court Sandiganbayan, Drilon added, has the lowest disposition rate of only 3.86%.

“This is a stumbling block to the government’s effort to prosecute grafters in this government because the cases stay in the Sandiganbayan for an unreasonably long period of time,” he said.

“In other words, out of every 100 cases pending, almost just about 4 would be decided during the year. This gets serious because as we go on, the cases pile up.”

Drilon also asked the judiciary to organize the 135 unorganized courts—laws which have been previously approved by Congress but have yet to be implemented because plantilla positions are still vacant.

“We are glad that the court is receptive to the suggestions and agrees that indeed the disposition rate can stand improvement. They will submit to the committee an action plan on how to have a faster rate of disposition,” said Drilon.