Photo: DAR Secretary John Castriciones
In support of the concerted efforts of the government to deter the spread of the coronavirus disease-2019 (Covid-19) by reducing interpersonal transactions, the Department of Agrarian Reform (DAR) has issued guidelines to implement an on-line processing of agrarian related complaints and petitions to limit the physical movement of the DAR litigants, Adjudicators, and DAR Adjudication Board (DARAB) personnel.
DAR Secretary John R. Castriciones said the guidelines would enable the Board members and field adjudicators to act on matters remotely and digitally while it reduces the need for physical interaction with the parties and counsels of record.
“We will ensure the health and safety, not only of our personnel, but also of our public clientele. Under the DAR’s ‘new normal’ scenario, complaints, and petitions, together with other supporting documents, may now be filed through electronic transmission or e-mail before the DARAB provincial and regional offices. The Adjudicator will have to personally evaluate the supporting evidence submitted,” Castriciones said.
The Secretary added that the DARAB personnel can conduct video conferencing or online hearings but only through the DAR officially provided Microsoft Office 365. Proceedings during the video conferencing or online hearings should be recorded by the Clerk of Adjudicator or DARAB Secretariat.
“Any unauthorized recording of the proceedings will be dealt with accordingly,” Castriciones stressed.
He noted that the parties affected by the decision may file for a motion for reconsideration within fifteen (15) days from receipt of the decision through e-mail, with proof of the e-mail service to the other parties and counsels.
“Parties and counsels must immediately be provided with their copies of the resolutions or decisions made by the Adjudicator or the Board, through email or registered mail with proof of receipt properly recorded,” Castriciones said
Under the guidelines, the Adjudicator or the Board may suspend the proceedings for a period, not exceeding five (5) days, when there are technical issues affecting the conduct of video conference hearings.
The online hearings may apply to all stages of the hearings of newly filed and pending DARAB cases.
The protocol also stated that the payment of fees for the complaint and petition will be coursed through any branch of the Land Bank of the Philippines with the copy of the deposit slip to be sent via e-mail as proof of payment.
Castriciones said that even during this period of public health emergency, the DAR would not stop in providing service to the stakeholders of the Comprehensive Agrarian Reform Program (CARP).
“We will continue to deliver social justice to our farmers and assure everyone that the online hearing would resemble, as far as practicable, the in-court (DARAB) proceedings. As such, the dignity and solemnity of the hearings will be observed,” Castriciones said.
Castriciones reiterated that the safety of the people’s health is DAR’s priority. He, however, stressed that the issued memorandum is only being implemented temporarily in provinces or cities placed under the classification of General Community Quarantine or Modified General Community Quarantine, and maybe revised at any time depending on the prevailing circumstances.