SC: ‘Affidavit rule’ not suspended but up for deliberation

A+
A
A-

Chief Justice Maria Lourdes Sereno. INQUIRER FILE PHOTO

MANILA, Philippines — The Supreme Court clarified that the implementation of the Judicial Affidavit Rule (JAR) was not suspended.

In a statement, the high court’s Public Information Office said Chief Justice Maria Lourdes Sereno has submitted to the court en banc (full court) for deliberation the request of the Prosecutors League of the Philippines (PLP) to defer its implementation for a year.

“Chief Justice Maria Lourdes P.A. Sereno, responding to a request from the PLP for the deferment of the implementation of the JAR for at least a year in criminal cases, has directed that the request be included in the agenda of the Supreme Court’s First En Banc session of the year on Jan. 8, 2013,” the high court said Thursday.

The JAR requires submission of judicial affidavits in lieu of direct testimony of witnesses in criminal cases. The rule took effect on January 1 .

The high court statement, however, did not mention Circular No. 146 which was issued by the Office of the Court Administrator to all Justices of the Court of Appeals, Sandiganbayan, Court of Tax Appeals, Judges of trial courts, Investigating Officers authorized by the Supreme Court to receive evidence including the Integrated Bar of the Philippines, arbiters of Special Courts and Quasi-Judicial bodies which mentions that it would be more prudent, as recommended by Associate Justice Roberto Abadn to suspend implementation pending decision of the Court en banc.

Abad, together with Associate Justices Diosdado M. Peralta and Lucas Bersamin, met with members of the Prosecutors’ League of the Philippines on December 21. Abad made the recommendation to suspend the implementation of the rule.

The new rule, which was approved by the high court unanimously last
September, provides that “when a party [whether plaintiff or defendant] questions his own witness, he no longer needs to place the witness on the witness stand.” As a substitute, the party or his lawyer merely submits the written sworn statement of his witness in a question-and-answer format.

It also requires each party to the case to attach all his documentary evidence to the judicial affidavit, which, in turn, must be submitted at least five days before the “pre-trial” or “preliminary conference” in the case.

The JAR was said to be effective in reducing the time used for presenting the testimonies of witnesses by about two-thirds after a pilot program was conducted in the Quezon City courts.

However, the PLP said they have limited time to prepare judicial affidavits because they were saddled with heavy workloads.

In their letter to Chief Justice Maria Lourdes P.A. Sereno, they said preparation for judicial affidavits was also more time consuming than conducting direct examination of witnesses.

It added that while it has been successful in Quezon City or would be successful in Metro Manila areas, this was so because there were sufficient number of prosecutors in the area unlike in the provinces with too few prosecutors.

“The prosecutors in the regional, provincial and city prosecution offices have limited time to prepare judicial affidavits because they are already saddled with heavy workloads, such as trial, including criminal and special proceedings cases; preliminary investigation, inquest proceedings and summary investigation (direct filing),” the PLP said. It said the SC’s successful experiment in Quezon City on the JAR “cannot apply to prosecution offices with lesser number of prosecutors.”

“Moreover, while litigants in Quezon City usually reside within the city, those in regions and provinces reside in inaccessible and far flung areas. Thus, they will spend additional expenses in going to prosecution offices to execute their judicial affidavits,” the PLP said.

Disclaimer: The comments uploaded on this site do not necessarily represent or reflect the views of management and owner of INQUIRER.net. We reserve the right to exclude comments that we deem to be inconsistent with our editorial standards.

  • kilabot

    cj sereno should just issue administrative order to proceed with jar asap. 
    she is used to bypassing the en banc anyway. why change now?

  • jaws378

    The implementation of the Judicial Affidavit Rule this month should not only be suspended; it should be discarded especially in criminal cases where proof of guilt beyond reasonable doubt is necessary in order to convict the accused. It need not be emphasized that the demeanor of the witness both on direct and cross examination is very crucial in assessing his credibility. If you allow his judicial affidavit to take the place of his direct examination, you reduce by 50% the ability of the trial judge to observe the conduct of the witness.But first and foremost why this rule should be junked is the fact that in an affidavit, it is the language of the one preparing the affidavit which appears and not that of the witness.

    • Jonas Cruz

      I advise you to read the Rule. The Rule requires judicial affidavits for a party’s own witness, and therefore would not rein in the territory of cross-examination. An affidavit, in legal construct, has the same weight as an oral testimony and therefore are merited the same weight in law. Please see the Rules first before acting like a lawyer.

  • Garote

    This is what happened when lawyers, inexperienced in trial practice, are appointed in high-judicial posts like in the SC. These lawyers are appointed because of political connection, and not because of their knowledge and experience in trial and law. Their knowledge and techniques are obsolete and rusty. However, when donned in black robes, these justices believed they are bestowed with magical powers making  them brilliant jurists. This false notion is the reason why they kept on promulgating  stupid rules and decisions.

    • http://www.dafk.net/what/ Kilabot ng mga Balahibo

       “This is what happened when lawyers, inexperienced in trial practice, are appointed in high-judicial posts like in the SC. These lawyers are appointed because of political connection, and not because of their knowledge and experience in trial and law. Their knowledge and techniques are obsolete and rusty. However, when donned in black robes, these justices believed they are bestowed with magical powers making  them brilliant jurists. This false notion is the reason why they kept on promulgating  stupid rules and decisions.”

      Agreed for the most part… Especially if one’s experience is in the academe, or at best mediation.

      But, if you remember, the thrust of the present judicial administration centers on reforms. This means thinking out of the box, or challenging known perceptions of what is possible from that of the traditional methods. And this will mean radical new changes. You are correct that experience should play an important part whether new and radical procedures will be effective when implemented. Simply nothing can beat both experience and the ability to think out of the box.

      Back to this affidavit rule, it WAS effective in QC, as per article. But was not effective nationwide simply because of the resources involved. In essence, it was a right move, hampered by present conditions of the courts.

      • marionics

        ayaw talaga ng mga prosecutor yan kasi hindi sila makaka object sa mga testimony he he

  • http://pulse.yahoo.com/_WYX4ZTAV4BUGW2RIMT45CPYBGA Pio Gante

    yun rin naman ang ibig sabihin nun, ang dami pang che-che bureche

  • http://pulse.yahoo.com/_GEL5M676WZ7BLFR4SNH66WKRZM Bigboy I

    sa totoo lang wala naman garantiya pag ginawa mo judicial affidavit bibilis proseso ng korte ginawa na rin dati yan nung tinanggal nila oral arguments noong panahon ni cj teehankee me nangyari ba bumilis ba proseso!?

To subscribe to the Philippine Daily Inquirer newspaper in the Philippines, call +63 2 896-6000 for Metro Manila and Metro Cebu or email your subscription request here.

Factual errors? Contact the Philippine Daily Inquirer's day desk. Believe this article violates journalistic ethics? Contact the Inquirer's Reader's Advocate. Or write The Readers' Advocate:

c/o Philippine Daily Inquirer Chino Roces Avenue corner Yague and Mascardo Streets, Makati City,Metro Manila, Philippines Or fax nos. +63 2 8974793 to 94