By Czarina Nicole Ong
The Sandiganbayan has taken another step toward the future as it launched Tuesday its Modernization and Transparency Initiative, which helps all interested individuals gain access to the anti-graft court's decisions, court calendar, and records.
With the help of the Australian Embassy and The Asia Foundation (TAF), the Sandiganbayan now has a Case Management System - a technological hub for all documents and important notices for its employees.
Through it, justices, clerks of court, and heads of offices can now have access to basic documents and the e-calendar. And because it is highly secure with data encryption, it restricts access to appropriate data, reports and functionalities based on user roles and privileges.
The e-calendar, which will be accessible in the Sandiganbayan website and the interactive kiosks located within court premises, will display which of the seven divisions of the Sandiganbayan that will hold a hearing, its date and time, as well as the Justices who will oversee the case for the day.
It will also indicate special members of attendance, as well as the court personnel on duty during the said hearing. Not only that, but the e-calendar will also note the case number and title of the cases to be heard.
On the other hand, the court documents will be accessible through the Sandiganbayan Legal Information Archive (SLIA). It will initially contain decisions and resolutions from January 2014 to March 2018, which is roughly 16,000 pages worth of court documents. Eventually, the SLIA will also carry documents dating from March 1979.
The SLIA will even include a "Case Status" feature, which will link Supreme Court cases to the relevant Sandiganbayan cases.
During an interview, Presiding Justice Amparo Cabotaje-Tang said the digitization would definitely help them speed up resolution of cases. "We hope so, because we are already adhering to the revised guidelines, so that is our hope. When it comes to simple cases, like one accused, probably, that is our target," she said.
For now, Cabotaje-Tang said the initiative would be for the use of the Justices and their staff. But hopefully soon, it could be used by the public as well.