Thursday, February 29, 2024

SC to pilot-test e-payment solution in 20 courts nationwide

The Supreme Court (SC) said on Thursday, March 3, that it will pilot-test its Judiciary Electronic Payment Solution (JEPS) in 20 first-level courts nationwide.

Pursuant to OCA Circular No. 44-2022, signed by newly appointed court administrator Raul B. Villanueva on Wednesday, March 2, 2022, the Supreme Court directed the following first-level courts to pilot test JEPS:

  • Metropolitan Trial Court (MeTC), Quezon City, Metro Manila;
  • MeTC, Mandaluyong City, Metro Manila;
  • MeTC, San Juan City, Metro Manila;
  • Municipal Trial Court in Cities (MTCC), Malolos City, Bulacan;
  • MTCC, Baguio City, Benguet;
  • MTCC, Angeles City, Pampanga;
  • MTCC, Cabuyao City, Laguna;
  • MTCC, Naga City, Camarines Sur;
  • MTCC, Vigan City, Ilocos Sur;
  • MTCC, Ilagan City, Isabela;
  • MTCC, Puerto Prinsesa City, Palawan;
  • MTCC, Bacolod City, Negros Occidental;
  • MTCC, Lapu-lapu City, Cebu;
  • MTCC, Dumaguete City, Negros Oriental;
  • MTCC, Tacloban City, Leyte;
  • MTCC, Zamboanga City, Zamboanga del Sur;
  • MTCC, Cagayan de Oro City, Misamis Oriental;
  • MTCC, Cotabato City, Maguindanao;
  • MTCC, Dipolog City, Zamboanga del Norte; and
  • MTCC, Davao City, Davao del Sur

Under the circular, the SC directed all Clerks of Court (COC) and Acting Clerks of Court (ACOC) of the 20 pilot courts to adopt the Interim Guidelines Implementation of the JEPS which, among others, designates UnionBank’s system as an alternative mode of payment of legal fees and other collections, in addition to the Fortune Pay Online Portal, until the integration of the latter with the system.

To properly inform the public about the JEPS, the COCs and ACOCs of the pilot courts will post the instructions on how to pay electronically using UnionBank system on the payment windows or bulletin boards of their respective courts, both in English and in the local dialect of the place where the pilot court is situated.

The JEPS is aimed at making the assessment and payment of legal fees and other collections of the judiciary more convenient by providing the litigants, their counsels or representatives, and persons requesting for clearances, certifications, and other services from the court the option to pay online through major banks as conduit.

The system is currently limited to UnionBank accounts (no convenience fee), bank transfer through InstaPay and PesoNet (both with convenience fee).

The pilot-testing of the JEPS in the selected courts is an offshoot of the Memorandum of Agreement entered into by the SC and UnionBank on March 15, 2021 for the latter to develop an e-payment solution for the judiciary.

Last July 2021, the high court launched the Judiciary ePayment for Small Claims, the online payment of legal fees for small claims cases. The launch was made following the signing of a MOA between the Court and Easypay Global EMI Corp. (EGEC), the owner of Fortune Pay.

The JEPS, open to all banks and their account holders, is an application designed to provide the SC and all the courts in the country the option to receive fees and payments digitally.

In July of last year, the Supreme Court also launched the Bar Personalized Login Unified System (Bar PLUS) website to facilitate applications for the 2021/2022 Bar Examinations held in February 2022.

At the time of its launch, applicants were directed to pay for their Bar application fee via over-the-counter cash deposit in Landbank of the Philippines branches nationwide. Bar applicants had the additional option to pay their application fees online through the Landbank Link.Biz portal or the Judiciary ePayment Solutions.

At the same time, the SC approved on Tuesday, March 1, the procedural rules expediting criminal and civil actions filed before the first-level courts.

Under the “Rules on Expedited Procedures in First Level Courts (A.M. No. 08-8-7-SC)”, notices may now be served through mobile phone calls, SMS, or instant messaging software applications.

While videoconferencing hearings should be conducted using the SC-prescribed Microsoft Teams platform, the court may allow the use of alternative platforms or instant messaging applications with video call features, under certain conditions.

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