71K PDLs released as of September: Peralta

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    MORE than 71,000 persons deprived of liberty have been released from detention amid the COVID-19 pandemic either through videoconferencing hearings or regular proceedings, according to Chief Justice Diosdado Peralta.

    Peralta disclosed the figures in addressing the first virtual convention of the Philippine Trial Judges League, Inc. (PTJLI) yesterday.

    Peralta had earlier ordered the courts to conduct videoconferencing hearings so as not to delay the trials of cases and to decongest the country’s jail facilities amid the pandemic.

    “From March 17 to September 18, a total of 71, 439 PDLs have been released nationwide either through videoconference or regular hearings,” Peralta said, adding 93, 469 hearings through videoconferencing have been conducted by the trial courts, with a success rate of 88.59 percent.

    Of the 88,095 criminal cases, there were 61,323 accused PDLs.

    Initially, the SC allowed 1,025 trial courts to conduct videoconferencing hearings, which was later expanded to 1,430. Last August, it allowed a further 882 courts to do so.

    The SC also allowed the online filing of petitions and information.

    Peralta said another court innovation that was necessitated by the pandemic was the approval of the 2020 Interim Rules on Remote Notarization of Documents, which permits, in certain cases, the notarization of paper documents and instruments with handwritten signatures or marks, through the use of videoconferencing facilities.

    “I have always emphasized that the courts are not shutting down in times of emergencies.

    Instead, the courts are accessible to everyone at all times given our reliable judiciary-wide technologies,” he added.

    Peralta also rallied the trial court judges to continue supporting reform programs in the judiciary.