Legal Basis and Purpose of Electronic Filing of Complatins and Posting of Bail
Section 5 (5), Article VIII of the 1987 Philippine Constitution provides the power of the Supreme Court to promulgate rules concerning the protection and enforcement of constitutional rights, pleading, practice, and procedure in all courts.
Consistent with its power, the Supreme Court promulgated Administrative Circular No. 22 – 2020 (“Circular”) which provides the rules governing online filing of Complaint or Information and the posting of bail due to rising cases of COVID-19 infection.
The promulgation of these rules aims to 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. As such, instead of physically traveling to their stations, judges and court staff are now enabled to digitally act on certain matters covered by the circular.
How are Complaints and Informations filed amid the pandemic?
Under the Circular, criminal complaints and Informations may be filed through electronic transmission or email before the proper first or second level court. Other supporting documents shall also be included in the email or shall be electronically transmitted. Once the Complaint or Information is received by the court, the Clerk of Court shall refer the same to the judge on duty.
After filing, what happens next?
Within three (3) days from the electronic filing of the complaint or Information, the judge on duty shall personally evaluate the complaint or the resolution of the prosecutor, and its supporting evidence.
If the evidence on record clearly fails to establish probable cause, then the judge on duty may dismiss the case immediately.
If the judge on duty finds probable cause, he or she shall issue a warrant of arrest, or a commitment order.
A commitment order shall be issued by the judge when the Complaint or Information was filed pursuant to the Revised Rules on Criminal Procedure, which pertains to lawful arrest without a warrant, or if the accused has been arrested pursuant to a warrant earlier issued by the judge who personally evaluated the resolution of the prosecutor and its supporting evidence.
In case of doubt of probable cause
The judge on duty may order the prosecutor to submit additional evidence, through electronic transmission, within three (3) days from notice and the issue must be resolved by the court within ten (10) days from the electronic filing of the Complaint of Information.
Can the accused be admitted to bail?
The judge has the duty to determine whether the accused be admitted to bail or not. In such case, if bail is a matter of right, the accused has to submit all the requirements for bail and the judge on duty shall examine the submission. If complete and compliant, the judge shall sign the approval of the bail and the consequent release order.
Can the judge on duty reduce the amount of bail?
Yes. The amount of bail initially fixed may be reduced upon motion of the accused and after giving the prosecutor the opportunity to comment within a non-extendible period of twenty-four (24) hours from the filing of the motion to reduce bail. Decision on the reduction shall be done within twenty-four (24) hours from the expiration of the period to comment on the motion for reduction of bail, with or without comment from the prosecutor.
The motion to reduce bail shall be electronically transmitted.
Also, the approval of the bail and the consequent release order shall be electronically transmitted to the Executive Judge who in turn shall transmit the same within the same day to the proper law enforcement authority or detention facility to enable the release of the accused.
The initial online submission of the requirements for bail may also be availed of by an accused who has been charged before the court prior to the start of this public health emergency period.
Take note that as expressly provided by the Circular, this procedure shall be in effect only during this duration of public health emergency.
About Nicolas and De Vega Law Offices
If you need assistance in filing a complaint or criminal procedure related issues, we can help you. Nicolas and de Vega Law Offices is a full-service law firm in the Philippines. You may visit us at the 16th Flr., Suite 1607 AIC Burgundy Empire Tower, ADB Ave., Ortigas Center, 1605 Pasig City, Metro Manila, Philippines. You may also call us at +632 84706126, +632 84706130, +632 84016392 or e-mail us at [email protected]. Visit our website www.ndvlaw.com.