SC e-filing requirement unfair to Mindanao litigants
In his June 28 column, Cielito Habito noted that as of 2015, we were among those at the bottom of the list with the “fastest” internet speed pegged at 3.2 megabytes per second (“Our internet speed—er, slowness,” Opinion). Compared to South Korea’s 26.7 mbps, we are like cave dwellers of old, relying on smoke signals to communicate. The worst part is, there is no internet connectivity at all in many parts of Mindanao, and if at all there is any, it’s so bad.
That was meant to be addressed by the Arroyo administration’s National Broadband Network project which required the assistance of China’s ZTE Corp. That project called for an efficient telecommunications network linking all islands of the archipelago to bring the entire country up to speed. But again, as usual, good old-fashioned corruption got the better of our public officials who wanted to get richer more quickly! That project just died a “natural” death—Philippine-style. Dahil sa sobrang laki ng bukol( Because the boil was excessively large), it became a tumor!
We are raising this concern on account of a Supreme Court requirement for the e-filing (electronic filing) of pleadings. The Supreme Court must have had in mind only the law offices in Metro Manila and other urban centers. It simply forgot that other law offices also exist in far-flung areas of Mindanao, where internet connection is a kind of luxury that the lawyers practicing there can only enjoy sporadically. Given the often uncompromising strictness of the Supreme Court when it comes to the hardcopy-filing cum e-filing of pleadings within their reglementary periods, they are clearly at a disadvantage.
We are not kvetching just for the heck of it. We were recent victims of the same strict implementation of the Supreme Court rules. Our lawyer in Mindanao failed to meet the deadline for filing a petition for review in the Supreme Court because the internet connection in his area was down for one week. The neighboring towns had no internet connection so he was stuck where he was, waiting in vain for a reconnection. Needless to say, we lost.
How could the Supreme Court be so callous and indifferent to the plight of litigants in the remote provinces? We wish President Duterte, himself a native of Mindanao, would knock some sense into the “gods of Mount Olympus” in Padre Faura. Since no past president has found the guts to denounce the Supreme Court’s tyrannical tendencies, maybe a cuss word or two from Duterte would do the trick?
—CHIN CHIN KATIGBAK, [email protected]
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