Thursday, September 17, 2009

The Philippine Rules on Electronic Evidence : An Outline

Soriano, Jaime N. The Philippine Rules on Electronic Evidence : An Outline. The Philippine Quarterly IT Law Journal 1(1), p. 7-8.

Abstract :

The Philippine Supreme Court approved the Rules on Electronic Evidence on July 20, 2001 in accordance with Republic Act No. 8792 otherwise known as the e-Commerce Act of 2000. It initially applies to civil, quasi-judicial and administrative proceedings and was revised to cover criminal cases on October 2002. This article outlined the Rules in aid of the viewing public citing a concrete example on using electronic evidence in court cases.

Three (3) things I learned: 

1. Electronic evidence is admissible in evidence provided it is competent, relevant and can be authenticated.
2. To determine the evidentiary weight of electronic documents it is important to factor in the reliability of how the document is generated, stored and communicated and the integrity of the information and communication system.
3. Ephemeral electronic evidence such as telephone conversation, text messages, chat sessions, streaming audio and video if recorded shall be proven as an electronic evidence.

Reflections :
It is clearly stated that the Philippines has it's Rules on Electronic Evidence in place 8 years ago. Although not directly stated, the Philippine Judicial System did acknowledged the complexity of information technology and the significance of electronic documents as applied to court litigations. Such rules however provided major issues on the reliability and the aunthenticity of documents and the information it contains. Taking advantage of the complex technology offered nowadays, electronic documents by all means could be changed and altered and used as evidence to prove allegations to the point of making false accusations and unjust judgment. Electronic documents without electronic signatures and proper authentication will have no credit on court cases. With such issues and the continuing struggles of some people deprived of justice, electronic evidence could also be an avenue to enhance the divisions between the rich and the poor. With the rich having the resources and the poor with nothing to offer. Electronic evidence should serve its purpose. It should be used as a tool for justice and for the truth.  
Note : A major implication of the Rules to the Philippine Judicial System is the creation of the Supreme Court E-Library.

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