SC issues rules on pilot-test of hearings via videoconferencing

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The Supreme Court (SC) issued on Monday, May 4, the rules regarding the pilot testing of hearings through videoconferencing of criminal cases involving PDLs (persons deprived of liberty).

OCA-93-2020

The Office of the Court Administrator (OCA) released Circular 93–2020 to implement the SC’s Administrative Circular 37 –2020 issued last April 27 mandating the holding of electronic hearings.

The OCA circular emphasized that the pilot-test will apply only to “hearings on urgent matters in criminal cases involving PDLs ” during the “period of public health emergency” in select court stations nationwide.

Under the guidelines, videoconferencing hearings will only be allowed to use the “Philippine Judiciary 365” platform which has the Outlook application for official e-mail accounts, and the Microsoft Teams to host the videoconferencing hearings.

“No court is allowed to use any other platform or e-mail account, other than the officially provided Philippine Judiciary 365 platform,” the circular said.

In the SC circular, the tribunal said it initiated the electronic hearings because of the extension of the Enhanced Community Quarantine and the imposition of General Community Quarantine in different provinces and cities in the country, as well as the reported infections of some PDLs to Covid-19 in the different detention facilities.

“There is a serious need to further restrain the movement and travel of court users, PDLs, judges and court personnel to further reduce the spread of the dreaded infectious disease,” the court said.

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