The Supreme Court (SC), through the Office of the Court Administrator, announced on Sunday, May 31, that videoconferencing hearings will continue in areas covered by GCQ or general community quarantine.
The SC issued the advisory after noting the initial success of videoconferencing hearings in authorized courts nationwide where more than 7,000 videoconferencing hearings were done in a month and more than 22,000 PDLs (persons deprived of liberty) were released during the lockdown.
“This is authorized by both AC 40-2020 and AC 41-2020 which were issued by Chief Justice Diosdado M. Peralta. Hence, for example if a party wishes his/her case to be heard via videoconferencing, the proper motion just needs to be filed, and the court, using its sound discretion, can either grant or deny the motion. This remedy is available in both civil and criminal cases,” court administrator Jose Midas Marquez said in a statement.
Marquez said there have already been three convictions promulgated online by trial courts. “There was a case for qualified human trafficking in Angeles City, and for large scale trafficking for prostitution, and rape both in Cebu City. In all three, the accused were sentenced to life imprisonment and reclusion perpetua,” Marquez added.