MANILA, Philippines - The Supreme Court (SC) has made a giant step towards cutting down trial time by some 50 percent.
Seen to promote efficient and speedy trial, the Judicial Affidavit Rule was unanimously promulgated by the 14-member court in its En Banc session today.
Speaking to reporters, Judicial Reform Communicator and Deputy Court Administrator Raul Villanueva said the 7-page rule will put in place the use of judicial affidavits 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 applies to all actions, proceedings and incidents requiring presentation and reception of evidence in first and second level courts, 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 6 years, the accused agrees to use of it irrespective of the penalty involved, and in respect to civil aspect of cases.
The judicial affidavit, in numbered question-and-answer form, in such cases must be submitted to the court not later than 5 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 2 newspapers of general circulation on or before Sept. 15.
The Rule, while approved during the term of Chief Justice Maria Lourdes Sereno, was pilot tested in Quezon City since April, during the term of then Chief Justice Renato Corona.