IBP welcomes quasi-judicial bodies’ shift to online hearings

MANILA: The Integrated Bar of the Philippines (IBP) on Monday welcomed the move of quasi-judicial bodies in the country to adopt online hearings in their proceedings.

IBP national president Domingo Egon Cayosa, in a statement, said they commend the shift by the Energy Regulatory Commission (ERC), the National Labor Relations Commission (NLRC), and other quasi-judicial bodies to conduct online hearings.

“Beyond helping contain the spread of the (coronavirus disease 2019) and keeping litigants and workers in the justice sector safe, the wise use of information technology (IT) promotes efficiency, accessibility, integrity, transparency, accountability, and speed in the resolution of cases,” Cayosa said.

The group also called for refinements in the Supreme Court’s (SC) guidelines during the general community quarantine (GCQ) to hold online hearings in trial courts as a general rule.

“We support the efforts of other appellate courts towards online hearings,” he added.

The IBP said the computerization and online proceedings in the administration of justice have been adopted in other jurisdictions with positive results and great advantages, adding that the remaining issues in the local setting like IT hardware, training, and internet availability or speed can and should be adequately addressed.

“We must move forward and faster with the techno-pivot to develop truly “smart” courts, offices, and transactions that would immensely improve the administration of justice. Let us harness IT to promote ‘justice bills NOT justice tiis’ and to be in pace and at par with global standards and best practices,” Cayosa said.

Last week, SC Administrator Jose Midas Marquez said technology is seen to play a significant part in the country’s justice system under the ‘new normal’.

“All told, the new normal can be justice is accessible to everyone at all times. We just have to embrace enabling technologies that are reliable, malware-free, and Covid-19-free,” Marquez said in a webinar hosted by the Judicial Integrity Network in the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (Asean).

For instance, videoconferencing allowed court processes to continue despite the prevailing community quarantine amid the health crisis.

He added that 1,350 trial courts were able to conduct 3,201 videoconferencing hearings which resulted in the release of 22,522 persons deprived of liberty (PDLs) since the start of the enhanced community quarantine on March 17. 

(PNA/  Benjamin Pulta/ SRNY/ RSP)

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