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IBP wants online hearing made the 'general rule'

IBP wants online hearing made the 'general rule'

MANILA, Philippines – The Integrated Bar of the Philippines (IBP) wants to make online hearings in trial courts “the general rule.”

Based on the records of the Office of the Court Administrator (OCA), 1,350 trial courts have been authorized to conduct videoconferencing hearings on all pending matters in both criminal and civil cases, whether newly filed or pending and regardless of the stage of the trial.

So far, a total of 3,201 videoconferencing hearings have already been conducted.

However, videoconferencing or “tele-hearing” is still on the “pilot-test” stage. It was only given a wider scope by the high court magistrates to protect court officers, staff, and litigants from COVID-19.

“Beyond helping contain the spread of the COVID 19 virus and keeping litigants and workers in the justice sector safe, the wise use of IT promotes efficiency, accessibility, integrity, transparency, accountability, and speed in the resolution of cases,” IBP National President Atty. Domingo Egon Cayosa said Monday.

“IBP seeks refinements in the Supreme Court guidelines during GCQ to make online hearings in trial courts the general rule…Computerization and online proceedings in the administration of justice have been adopted in other jurisdictions with positive results and great advantages,” he said.

Cayosa said: “Any remaining kinks in the Philippine setting like IT hardware, training, and internet availability or speed can and should be adequately addressed.”

Aside from this, the Energy Regulatory Commission (ERC), the National Labor Relations Commission (NLRC), and other quasi-judicial bodies also shifted to online hearings.

He said adopting technology in court proceedings would greatly improve the administration of justice.

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