Gov't rolls out over 200 eCourts to promote transparency

enablePagination: false
maxItemsPerPage: 10
totalITemsFound:
maxPaginationLinks: 10
maxPossiblePages:
startIndex:
endIndex:

Highlights

  • The next eCourt launch will be in Manila, followed by Region IV-A and Region III
  • Automation of special courts and the Supreme Court are ongoing
  • Only Quezon City and Angeles City have a public interface for the eCourts so far
  • eCourts allow judges and the public to track their cases, raffle cases immediately after filing, and provide templates for court issuances
  • 635 court decongestion officers have been deployed nationwide

Metro Manila (CNN Philippines, March 30) — The judicial system promotes transparency with over 200 court branches across the Philippines now utilizing electronic courts (eCourt).

Camille Ting, Court Attorney at the Office of the Court Administrator, told CNN Philippines, there are 212 operational eCourts in Quezon City, Lapu-Lapu City, Angeles City, Cebu City, Davao City, Tacloban City, Pasig City, Makati City, and Mandaluyong City.

The eCourt system was first launched in 2013 in an effort to streamline the judicial process and allow the public to track the progress of cases online.

Ting confirmed the government's target to open 297 eCourts across 10 cities by the end of the year.

"We are on track, since eCourts (have) already been rolled out in 9 cities, with Manila, the 10th, scheduled for roll out this year," said Ting.

After Manila, the Supreme Court is looking at launch the eCourt program in Region IV-A, Region III, and the rest of the National Capital Judicial Region.

Ting also disclosed the Supreme Court and other special courts, particularly the Court of Appeals, Sandiganbayan, Court of Tax Appeal are next.

"The automation of the collegial appellate courts...and the Supreme Court are ongoing," Ting updated. "These systems will be linked to each other and to the lower courts to enable one to track cases from the first level courts all the way up to the Supreme Court."

In an interview with CNN Philippines' The Source on March 23, Supreme Court spokesperson Theodore Te said the project also "reduces the possibility of corruption" in the judiciary.

"Kasi hindi ka na kailangang kumausap ng tao. Meron ka nang titingnan kaagad, alam mo na kaagad yun," Te explained.

[Translation: Because you don't have to talk to people anymore. You already know where to look, and you know (the information) already.]

How to use the eCourt

The public can access eCourts through the Public Kiosk Inquiry System, a computer mounted on a booth.

As of publishing time, Ting said that only Quezon City and Angeles City have functioning public information kiosks, both located at the lobby of their respective Halls of Justice.

"The kiosks in the other stations should be put up soon," said Ting.

eCourt-Public-Information-Kiosk-at-the-lobby_CNNPH.png The Public Kiosk Inquiry System is the public interface of the eCourt system. Pictured above is the kiosk at the Quezon City Hall of Justice.  

The user can look for cases by entering the case number, case title, or name into the search bar and clicking "Find." The results will show the case number, case title, status of the case, branch handling the case, and the dates of the next hearing.

"The public does not need to physically visit the individual branches to request for or follow up the status of their cases, except in certain instances, such as family cases or those involving minors, which are considered confidential," Ting said.

eCourt-calendar-screencap_CNNPH.png Under the calendar tab, users can view the schedule of trials and hearings at various court branches.  

On another tab is a calendar that allows the public to see the scheduled hearings on a given month or day of different court branches.

For the judges and personnel, the eCourt interface is a dashboard with widgets. Judges will be able to see their pending and overdue tasks, court statistics, case ageing, raffled cases, and overstaying detainees.

"This feature helps alert judges, as well as other users, of matters they must act on, thus reducing case, as well as jail, congestion," Ting said.

Other eCourt features

Another aspect of the eCourt is the electronic raffle (eRaffle), which assigns cases to branches immediately after they are filed.

"Before eCourt, the raffle of newly filed cases happens only once or twice a week," said Ting. "The parties can know right away to which branch their case was raffled to."

eCourt-sample-dashboard_CNNPH.png For judges, the eCourt interface is a dashboard that displays their pending and overdue tasks, court statistics, case ageing, raffled cases, and overstaying detainees.  

Computers and printers are also set up in court rooms to "enable the real-time capture of case incidents during trial," Ting explained.

With the Automated Hearing system component of the eCourt, ready templates for court issuances can be printed on the spot.

"Templates for orders, resolutions, and other court issuances are available to the judge, which may then be issued right then and there to the parties and their counsel, thus eliminating the time it would take to otherwise mail these issuances," said Ting.

'Decongestion officers'

Te noted that another aspect of automation is the monitoring of cases to determine heavy congestion in courts.

As of March 23,OCA told CNN Philippines that 635 "court decongestion officers" have been deployed nationwide.

According to the call for applications OCA released last year, court decongestion officers are expected to be Bachelor of Laws or Juris Doctor graduates. They were listed to be "employed on a contractual basis...for two years" and "under the direct supervision of the judge of the branch or court where they are assigned."

"They are short term, effectively, project employees with a budget to look at particular courts and to help them determine which cases need to be decided immediately," said Te.

"Na-grant yun ng Congress [Congress granted it], so that's being done. Those are part of the efforts to streamline and make [resolutions] faster," he added.