SC starts digitization of presidential issuances and the Official Gazette

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[/caption] The digitization effort is expected to formally complete the high court?s electronic catalogue of official legal documents, according to acting SC chief justice Antonio Carpio, who signed the deal recently with Presidential Communications Development and Strategic Planning Office (PCDSPO) secretary Ricky Carandang. The Official Gazette, the official journal of the government, is produced and edited by the PCDSPO. It is usually in the Official Gazette where most of the presidential issuances, rules and regulations of government agencies, and proposed laws legislations have been published before taking effect as part of the country?s laws. Carpio said the inclusion of the digitized copies of the Official Gazette and presidential issuances in the E-Library will allow every judge and justice to find all of the country?s legal documents in a single place. ?These are the basic legal materials that judges and justices need in writing their decisions. Today, we have realized 95 percent of that vision. One month ago, the E-Library uploaded all decisions of the Supreme Court from 1901 to 1995, thus completing the coverage of decisions from 1901 to the present. At the same time, the E-Library also uploaded all laws from 1900 to the present,? he narrated. The E-Library has also updated all the rules and regulations filed with the Office of the National Administrative Register or ONAR, the magistrate shared. ?Of course, all the Supreme Court rules and circulars are in the E-Library.? ?What is notably lacking, however, are the presidential issuances: presidential proclamations, executive orders, administrative orders, memorandum orders and memorandum circulars. This is the 5 percent that we still do not have in the E-Library to complete our basic legal materials,? he noted. Carpio said the agreement with Carandang?s office will plug the gap and complete its electronic catalogue. ?The E-Library, with all these basic legal materials, is still like a utility vehicle: no bells and whistles, but it will get the judges and justices to their destination. Happily, the MOA today will also add bells and whistles to the E-Library and transform it from a utility vehicle to a decent sedan,? he said. Under the memorandum of agreement, the SC will digitize the entire Official Gazette collection from 1901 to the present, comprising 108 volumes. Carpio said digitizing all of the country?s jurisprudence and laws is ?a herculean task?. ?Digitizing books and documents, particular old ones, is a very tedious job. First, you have to scan every printed page into an image file. Then you have to convert every image file into a text file. Then you have to clean every text file and format it according to how you want it to look on a computer screen. Old books and documents, because of their discoloration, generate dirt in the text file. ?And finally, and this is the most tedious part, you have to manually proof read every text file word for word, even after using spelling checkers because spelling checkers are not 100% accurate. He said it took the SC, under chief librarian Mila Ong, almost seven years to complete the digitization of all the jurisprudence and laws of country. Carpio said the tribunal chose to digitize the decisions and laws by itself rather than buy digitized copies from commercial publishers because it had to make sure of the ?provenance of source documents?. ?We digitize only the original official documents, and if these are not available anymore, then we use the official copies or official publications of these original documents. ?For example, for Supreme Court decisions, we scan the original signed decisions and opinions. If these are not available, then and only then do we scan the decisions in the Philippine Reports, which is an official publication of the Court,? he said. ?We follow this strictly so that judges and justices, in writing their decisions, can simply copy and paste from the E-Library.? Carpio said it will take the SC about six years to digitize the entire Official Gazette collection if were to use the same resources in digitizing its court decisions and circulars. ?Fortunately, the UST Library has written us offering to digitize one-half of the Official Gazette collection — covering the prewar period. That will cut down the total time to digitize from six years to three years,? he shared. He said the SC also plans to invite the Department of Justice, the UP Library and the National Library to join in the effort. ?We may also acquire, if we can find the physical space in our buildings, two more open book scanners for the E-Library,? he said. He said the SC upload periodically to the E-Library digitized copies of the Official Gazette as they go about completing the work. ?With the forthcoming Court-provided USB 3G wireless thumb-drives, a judge or justice can access the E-Library 24 hours a day, 365 days a year, wherever he or she may be in the Philippines,? Carpio said.]]>

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