SC sets new guidelines on confidential info in sensitive cases

By , on September 28, 2017

FILE: Supreme Court (SC). (Photo by Aerous - Own work, CC BY-SA 3.0)
FILE: Supreme Court (SC). (Photo by Aerous – Own work, CC BY-SA 3.0)

MANILA — The Supreme Court (SC) announced a new set of guidelines in connection with the rule on confidentiality of names and personal information of victims in sensitive cases.

The order required the SC, Court of Appeals, Sandiganbayan and trial courts to prepare two copies of their decisions and orders on cases covered by the confidentiality rule.

In an administrative circular released Thursday, the High Court issued the rules to follow in the promulgation, publication and posting of decisions, resolutions and orders in cases of rape, child abuse, human trafficking and other sensitive crimes where confidentiality of identities of parties is required by laws.

The first copy is the unmodified version of the decision, resolution or order which will contain the names and personal circumstances of the victims and will be placed in a sealed blue envelope signed by the clerk of court.

The second copy is the redacted version of the decision, resolution or order where the name of the victim will be changed with fictional initial set by the court and the personal circumstances will be removed.

“Only the authenticated hard copies of the second (modified copy) of the promulgated decision and amended or new decision, final resolution or order of the handling court shall be released to and served on the parties in accordance with the Rules of Court,” read the guideline signed by Senior Associate Justice Antonio Carpio.

The new guideline has expanded the rule it has released in 2015 where the names of the victims of sensitive crimes have been replaced by initials in court documents.

Meanwhile, when the cases reach the high court, the judicial staff head of the justice in charge shall submit copies of the second copy of the ruling “placed in a brown-colored envelope, separately marked, dated and authenticated.”

And after promulgation of the ruling, the SC clerk of court is required to keep the original hard copy of the first copy in a red-colored envelope.

The second or modified copy, on the other hand, shall be placed in a yellow envelope.

The same administrative order promulgated last Sept. 5 also prohibits release of the first copies of covered cases to the public or the media except when allowed by the court and upon waiver by the party involved.

“The unauthorized release to the public or to the media of hard or soft copies of the first copy of the decisions final resolutions or orders of the courts, in covered cases … shall be considered grave offenses and shall be punishable with the penalties provided under the Civil Service Rules on Administrative Cases for grave offenses, without prejudice to the criminal and civil liabilities that the violators may incur under applicable law,” the high court said. (PNA)