SC allows online filing of criminal cases, posting of bail
MANILA, Philippines — The Supreme Court has allowed the online filing of criminal cases and posting of bail in courts as the country struggles with its fight against COVID-19.
Administrative Circular No. 33 which was signed by Chief Justice Diosdado Peralta laid down the guidelines for the online filing of complaints or Information and posting of bail “to further limit the physical movement of court users, judges, and personnel during this period of public health emergency as declared by the President pursuant to existing laws.”
The paperless filing of complaints and posting of bail will allow the courts to act on cases without the need of the judge or the court staff to physically go to court.
Based on the circular, criminal complaints and Information along with supporting documents may be filed through electronic transmission or email before the court. Once the complaint or information is received, the Clerk of Court shall refer the case to the Judge on duty who will evaluate it within three days to determine if it will be dismissed or not.
“If the Judge on duty finds probable cause, he or she shall issue a warrant of arrest, or a commitment order when the complaint or information was filed pursuant to the Revised Rules on Criminal Procedure,” read the circular.
The Judge on duty shall also issue a commitment order if the accused is already under detention.
In case of doubt on the existence of probable cause, the Judge on duty may order the prosecutor to submit, through electronic transmission, additional evidence within three days from notice. The case must then be resolved by the court within 10 days.
The Judge will also determine if the accused is qualified for bail. If the accused is qualified and has submitted all the requirements for bail electronically, “the judge on duty shall examine the submission, and if complete and compliant, shall sign the approval of the bail and the consequent release order.”
Under the circular, online submission of the requirements for bail can also be done by the accused who has been charged before the declaration of a public health emergency.
The high court has required Executive Judges to submit a weekly report of all data and information regarding their court activities during the period of emergency.
The online filing of criminal cases and bail-posting shall be in effect during the duration of the public health emergency.
The Office of the Court Administrator has been tasked to issue guidelines for the implementation of the circular.
The Chief Justice’s order came a day after the Department of Justice (DOJ) has allowed its prosecutors to use the E-inquest for suspects arrested without a warrant.
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