The Judicial Affidavit Rule requires that direct examination of a witness, which is the examination-in-chief of a witness by the party presenting him on the facts relevant to the issue, shall be in the form of judicial affidavits, subject to the usual mode of cross-examination.
When is the Rule effective?
The Rule took effect on 1 January 2013. However, in criminal cases without private prosecutors, the Supreme Court allowed public prosecutors in first- and second-level courts until the end of 2013 to utilize the affidavits of the complainant and his witnesses prepared and submitted in connection with the investigation and filing of the Information in court. Public prosecutors are required to fully comply with the Rule by 1 January 2014.
During the one-year period when the concession is in effect, the attending public prosecutor, upon presenting the witness, shall require the witness to affirm what the sworn statement contains and may only ask the witness additional direct examination questions that have not been amply covered by the sworn statement.
The concession does not apply in criminal cases where the private complainant is represented by a duly empowered private prosecutor, who has the obligation to comply with the Rule.
The reasons for the issuance of the Rule
Case congestion and delays plague most courts in cities, given the huge volume of cases filed each year and the slow and cumbersome adversarial system that the judiciary has in place. About 40% of criminal cases are dismissed annually owing to the fact that complainants simply give up coming to court after repeated postponements. Few foreign businessmen make long-term investments in the Philippines because its courts are unable to provide ample and speedy protection to their investments, keeping its people poor.
In order to reduce the time needed for completing the testimonies of witnesses in cases under litigation, on 21 February 2012 the Supreme Court approved for piloting by trial courts in Quezon City the compulsory use of judicial affidavits in place of the direct testimonies of witnesses. It is reported that such piloting has quickly resulted in reducing by about two-thirds the time used for presenting the testimonies of witnesses, thus speeding up the hearing and adjudication of cases. The adoption of the Rule hopes to replicate nationwide the success of the Quezon City experience in the use of judicial affidavits.
These reasons for the issuance of the Judicial Affidavit Rule are contained in the “whereas” clauses of A.M. No. 12-8-8-SC.
Also read and discuss the following:
2. Effectivity and Purpose of the Judicial Affidavit Rule