The Supreme Court will fully implement this year the electronic subpoena system or eSubpoena in trial courts nationwide, as part of its reform measures aimed at speeding up resolution of cases.
The SC, through Court Administrator Jose Midas Marquez, has directed all first and second level courts, which have undergone training for the project “to strictly implement the eSubpoena System.”
In Circular No. 244-2017 issued last Dec. 21, the SC required the lower courts with connectivity issues to use contingency measures and implement the program immediately.
“Pending full connectivity of all the courts nationwide, those courts which have no signal or are experiencing intermittent Internet signals in their stations are directed to use available Internet facilities in their respective areas and utilize the monthly Extraordinary and Miscellaneous Expense Allowance provided the judges in sending the eSubpoena,” the circular stated.
Marquez, who exercises administrative supervision over all regional trial courts, metropolitan trial courts, municipal trial courts and other local courts in the country, also ordered the courts and the Philippine National Police to strictly accomplish the feedback section in the system.
The Court Administrator lamented that over 52,000 subjects issued with eSubpoena did not have feedbacks, disabling the effective monitoring of attendance of summoned police officers in court hearings.
For the implementation of the eSubpoena System, he also tapped the SC’s Management Information System Office to handle courts that still do not have accounts or need to restart their password.
The eSubpoena system is a program approved by the High Court in April 2014 in partnership with the PNP as part of the judiciary modernization program.
It was designed to ensure the attendance of police officers when called to testify in criminal cases.
The program intended to address the absences of police officers in hearings, which had previously led to dismissal of thousands of cases—mostly drug cases—and the extended detention of suspects that further contribute to jail congestion.
Under this system, court personnel enter details of the subpoena in the PNP’s database using an eSubpoena Form. Once sent, the PNP unit’s court process officer acknowledges receipt and will inform the police officer being summoned.
Within three days from receipt of the eSubpoena, the PNP is required to inform the court of the summoned officer’s availability for the hearing. Under this system, any police officer summoned through the eSubpoena who does not appear in hearing without a valid reason could face both administrative and criminal cases.