High court OKs rule cutting down trial timeBy Tetch Torres
MANILA, Philippines—The Supreme Court has approved the rule that would cut down trial time by some 50 percent.
At a press conference, Judicial Reform Communicator and Deputy Court Administrator Raul Villanueva said the high court unanimously approved the Judicial Affidavit Rule.
Villanueva said the rule will be used in lieu of the tedious direct testimony of witnesses.
“There was 100-percent attendance of the members of the Court in this particular ruling. The Rule was adopted upon recommendation of Sr. Associate Justice Antonio Carpio, who is the chair of the Supreme Court Committee on the Revision of the Rules of Court, and Associate Justice Roberto Abad, who is the head of the sub-committee on the Revision of the Rules on Civil Procedure,” he said.
The Rule shall apply to all actions, proceedings and incidents that requiring reception of evidence in first and second level courts including appellate courts, and quasi-judicial bodies whose rules are subject to the approval of the Supreme Court.
In lower courts, the Rule applies to civil and special proceedings, and also in criminal cases.
The following are the circumstances in criminal cases covered by the Rule: where the maximum imposable penalty does not exceed six years, the accused agrees to use of it irrespective of the penalty involved, and in respect to civil aspect of cases.
The judicial affidavits are sworn statements, in numbered question-and-answer form. It is in such cases must be submitted to the court not later than five days before pre-trial or preliminary conference of a particular case, or prior to the hearing of motions. Documentary evidence must be attached to the judicial affidavit.
The other party has the right to cross-examine the witness upon receipt of the judicial affidavit.
The Rule will take effect on Jan. 1, 2013 after its publication in two newspapers of general circulation on or before Sept. 15.
The rule is one of the pet projects of former Chief Justice Renato Corona. It was pilot tested in Quezon City Courts last April 2012. Villanueva said during the pilot testing, time trial in Quezon City has been reduced in half.
The Quezon City RTC Branch 221 has been using the judicial affidavits on the civil aspect in the Maguindanao massacre case.