Use of judicial affidavit in cases deferred anew

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Friday, January 3, 2014

COURTS will still have to rely on oral testimony in criminal cases following the Supreme Court action to defer again for another year the implementation of the controversial Judicial Affidavit Rule (JAR).

In a one-page resolution, the SC said the extension to the prosecutors' compliance with the JAR provisions will end on December 31, 2014.

"The court enjoins the National Prosecution Service of the Department of Justice and the Prosecutors' League of the Philippines to work closely with the Supreme Court Sub-Committee on the Revision of the Rules of Criminal Procedure, headed by Associate Justice Diosdado Peralta, in developing comprehensive and truly meaningful changes that will minimize the problems of delay in the criminal justice system," stated the resolution dated December 10, 2013.

The JAR was supposed to take effect last January 1, 2013 but the PLP asked the justices to reconsider, saying the rule will not necessarily address case congestion.

The PLP said the preparation of a judicial affidavit is more time-consuming than conducting the direct testimony of witnesses. It also lamented the limited time to prepare the document because prosecutors are already swamped with heavy workloads such as trial, preliminary investigation and inquest proceedings.

However, the SC said it was effective in reducing the time used for presenting the testimonies of witnesses by about two-thirds after the pilot program in Quezon City courts in 2012.

Under the rule, the witnesses in all cases whose penalty is not exceeding six years will no longer be subjected to give an oral direct testimony, and instead, trial will proceed directly to cross examination by the opposing lawyer.

As a substitute, the party or his lawyer merely submits the written sworn statement of his witness in a question-and-answer format. (Sunnex)

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