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Court hearings go digital

TDT

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At least 80 more trial court stations in the country have been authorized to become pilot test hearings of civil and criminal cases via video conferencing.

This is to expedite resolution of cases at this time when physical access to courts is restricted, mass gatherings are prohibited and social distancing is enforced.

Chief Justice Diosdado M. Peralta, according to Court Administrator Jose Midas P. Marquez, has approved the pilot testing of video conferencing in the 80 court stations.

Video conferencing is one of the measures adopted by the Supreme Court (SC) to resolve cases and help decongest jails in the country.

In areas under general community quarantine (GCQ) and modified GCQ, courts are fully operational but the entry of people is restricted and, in many cases, discouraged. Courts are managed by skeleton work forces on rotation basis.

Filing of cases and petitions, like those on bail issues, are authorized to be done manually or electronically. Justices and judges are mandated to act on urgent cases.

Marquez said that since 4 May, some 1,350 trial courts nationwide have conducted 7,624 hearings via video conferencing that resulted in the release of 22,522 persons deprived of liberty and who were mostly detained at the lockup cells of the Philippine National Police as of 22 May.

The PDL were released either through bail or their own recognizance or when they were found to have served the minimum period of their sentences.

Marquez earlier said Chief Justice Peralta authorized the continuation of video conferencing on cases involving PDL and children in conflict with the law.

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