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Supreme Court allows e-filing of charges, e-posting of bail

 

MANILA, Philippines – The Supreme Court said on Tuesday, March 31, that it is allowing the electronic filing of complaints and charges, as well as electronic posting of bail, to further minimize the number of court personnel who have to leave their homes during the lockdown.

"This will enable the courts to digitally act on the matters covered by this Circular, thereby reducing the necessity of the judge and court staff to physically travel to their stations," Chief Justice Diosdado Peralta said in Administrative Circular No. 33-2020 signed on Tuesday.

Courts nationwide were earlier physically closed, with judges and staff on call for urgent matters. If the concern is deemed to be urgent, the judge and staff will go to court.

In the latest circular, the information can be filed electronically, and the judge shall evaluate within 3 days if it would be dismissed or if the case would proceed.

The Chief Justice said that if the judge orders an arrest, "the accused (may) submit all the requirements for bail, which may likewise be initially electronically transmitted to the court."

"The electronically transmitted approval of bail and release order by the Executive Judge shall be sufficient to cause the release of the accused," said Peralta.

The High Court will monitor all this through the Office of the Court Administrator (OCA). (READ: DOJ sticks to arrest policy, but rolls out electronic inquest)

Prosecutor tests positive 

This is the latest precautionary measure of the judiciary amid the coronavirus outbreak which has infected over 1,500 people in the country as of Monday, March 30.

The Department of Justice (DOJ) said Tuesday it had to totally physically close the Office of the Provincial Prosecutor in Laguna after a prosecutor tested positive for coronavirus.

"He has since then recovered but still on quarantine," said Justice Undersecretary Markk Perete.

In many localities, prosecutors offices and courts are in one building. 

Next week, the Office of the City Prosecutor in Parañaque will also be totally physically closed after "a  litigant died reportedly due to COVID-9," said Perete

He said because of this, "the entire building housing the justice complex was closed."

"However, even with these closures, the National Prosecution Service maintained a skeletal force to perform its basic function. Inquest of cases were re-assigned to a nearby jurisdiction," Perete added .

Prosecutors' offices nationwide are also physically closed, but the DOJ earlier allowed electronic inquests. – Rappler.com

Lian Buan

Lian Buan covers justice and corruption for Rappler. She is interested in decisions, pleadings, audits, contracts, and other documents that establish a trail. If you have leads, email lian.buan@rappler.com or tweet @lianbuan.

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