MORE courts have been allowed by the Supreme Court to conduct videoconferencing hearings in a bid to timely resolve cases amid the coronavirus outbreak in the country.
In Circular No. 130-2020, the Office of the Court Administraror allowed 882 single-sala courts to conduct videoconferencing in both criminal and civil cases.
"Considering however that the entire country has been under different levels of quarantine for some five (5) months now, court action on pending cases before courts which have not been authorized to conduct videoconferencing hearings has been delayed. Hence, there is a need to authorize more courts to conduct videoconferencing hearings,” the circular read.
Earlier, the SC disclosed that a total of 58,625 persons deprived of liberty (PDLs) have been released since community quarantines have been enforced in the country.
They were freed since March 17 to August 14, 2020 despite courts are physically closed especially in coronavirus-affected areas.
The PDLs were released “either through bail or recognizance, or after serving the minimum imposable penalty for the crime they were charged" because of the SC's implementation of court hearings via videoconferencing.
Videoconferencing hearings ensure cases are heard in a timely manner, and comply with the government’s social distancing and remote work guidelines because of the pandemic.
According to the high court, videoconferencing may continue to be availed of by litigants in authorized courts during coronavirus lockdows.