298 courts to be equipped with e-Court system by year end – Sereno

UNTV News   •   August 29, 2017   •   4588

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The Supreme Court aims to install electronic court or e-Court system in about 300 courts in 10 regions in the country by year end.

Chief Justice Maria Lourdes Sereno said these include Cebu City.

Under the e-Court system, hearings will be automated and judges will be able to issue orders or resolutions to parties right after the hearing.

This is part of the judicial reforms in the country and was pilot-tested in Quezon City Courts in 2013.

“Out of the 278 e-Courts, 159 are already conducting automated hearings wherein courts issue their orders within minutes after the hearing cutting trial by at least a month for each order as the orders need no longer be mailed via snail mail,” Chief Justice Sereno said. – UNTV News and Rescue

JBC extends deadline for Chief Justice application, nomination to Sept. 2

Robie de Guzman   •   August 23, 2019

MANILA, Philippines – The Judicial and Bar Council (JBC) has extended until September 2 the deadline for application and nomination of the next Chief Justice of Supreme Court, a panel member announced on Thursday.

According to Justice Secretary Menardo Guevarra, the council decided to extend the deadline to invite more applicants to the position.

The application for the next chief justice initially closed on August 20.

Only four Supreme Court justices have filed their application and acceptance of nomination, namely, Associate Justices Diosdado Peralta, Estela Perlas-Bernabe, Andres Reyes Jr and Jose Reyes Jr.

Perlas-Bernabe and Peralta were among the five SC senior associate justices who were automatically nominated for the post. The other three magistrates are Senior Associate Justice Antonio Carpio, Associate Justices Marvic Leonen and Benjamin Caguiao who all rejected their automatic nominations.

Carpio earlier said he declined his nomination as he is set to retire in October. Leonen and Caguiao, however, did not cite their reasons.

The chief justice position will be vacated when CJ Lucas Bersamin will reach the mandatory retirement age of 70 on October 18.

Bersamin was appointed by President Rodrigo Duterte as chief justice on November 28, 2018.

Supreme Court imposes fines on MWSS, Maynilad, Manila Water

Robie de Guzman   •   August 6, 2019

MANILA, Philippines – The Supreme Court on Tuesday ordered the Metropolitan Waterworks and Sewerage System (MWSS) and water concessionaires, Manila Water and Maynilad to pay fines for their non-compliance of the Clean Water Act.

In its decision, the SC fined Manila Water and Maynilad both with more than P900 million. The same amount of fine is required for Manila Water to be jointly paid with the MWSS for the period of May 7, 2009 until the date of promulgation.

The concessionaires are required to pay the fine within 15 days from receipt of a copy of the ruling.

From receipt of the decision until the fine is fully paid, they shall also pay the amount of P322,000 per day for every day of their non-compliance with the Clean Water Act.

The SC added that a legal interest of six percent per annum will also be applied.

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Supreme court OKs rules for inmate videoconferencing

Robie de Guzman   •   August 6, 2019

MANILA, Philippines – The Supreme Court (SC) on Tuesday said it has approved the guidelines on the use of videoconferencing technology to allow the remote appearance and testimonies for inmates.

In a resolution issued on June 25, 2019, the Court En Banc approved A.M. No. 19-05-05 or the proposed Guidelines on the Use of Videoconferencing Technology for the Remote Appearance or Testimony of Certain Persons Deprived of Liberty in Jails and National Penitentiaries.

This aims to guarantee and preserve the constitutional rights of the accused in court proceedings being detained in a district, city or provincial jail or a national inmate committed in a national penitentiary.

The court said the utilization of the technology is to eliminate the safety, security and health risks posed by the personal appearance of inmates who are “considered to be high-risk or afflicted with highly contagious diseases.”

“Such risk is not only posed on the accused but also to judges, court personnel, and the public in general. This will also guarantee the accused’s rights to be present and confront witnesses against them and to ensure the continuity of proceedings in criminal cases,” the SC said in a statement.

The guidelines provide that “the remote appearance and testimony of an accused in a videoconference proceeding shall closely resemble his or her otherwise in-person courtroom testimony and experience.”

Further, “the dignity and solemnity in a videoconference proceeding shall be the same as those of an in-court proceeding. The remote location shall be viewed as an extension of the courtroom.”

The Guidelines also detail the procedures to be observed allowing the defense counsel to be physically present with their clients at the jail or in court at the inmate’s option.

The rules also state that the video cameras must be placed and positioned in such a way so as to cover the same image the inmates at the remote location would see if he or she were physically present in the courtroom.

The trial court, however, may exercise its discretion to suspend the videoconference proceeding when there are technical issues which would affect its fairness or if matters should arise warranting the PDLs’ physical appearance in the courtroom.

The SC said the guidelines will take effect on September 1 and will be tested in Davao.

Tests on its use will be conducted for a period of not more than two years between the following: the Davao City Hall of Justice and the Davao City Jail; the Davao City Hall of Justice and the Special Intensive Care Area (SICA), Camp Bagong Diwa, Bicutan; and the Davao City Hall of Justice and the New Bilibid Prison, Muntinlupa City.

The SC said it has been “employing modern technology” in the hearing of some cases. It cited as an example the use of live-link television testimony in criminal cases where the witness or the victim is a child and the presentation of testimonial evidence through electronic means in both civil and criminal cases.”

In 2001, the Court gave the family courts the green light to use video-conferencing equipment in trials involving the testimonies of children.

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