14 August 2021 - The Civil Service Commission (CSC) will soon be holding virtual hearings.

In CSC Resolution No. 2100420 promulgated on 2 June 2021, the CSC adopts guidelines on the use of a videoconferencing platform for hearings and pre-hearing conferences before the CSC and its regional offices. The move would allow speedy disposition of administrative cases despite the pandemic crisis situation, while keeping participants safe from health risks.

Virtual hearings and pre-hearing conferences will be applicable not only during the declaration of a community quarantine, but also in the case of unforeseen or fortuitous events that prevent in-person appearances before the CSC.

The guidelines provide technical and operational standards as well as detailed procedures to ensure that the proceedings in the virtual pre-hearing conferences and hearings would closely resemble in-person proceedings, including maintaining fairness, order, and confidentiality.

The resolution will take effect fifteen (15) days from its publication on 14 August 2021.

Procedures

The CSC will be using Microsoft Teams for its virtual pre-hearing conferences and hearings. Participants should secure the MS Teams link or access code provided to them by the CSC hearing officer, and be at the virtual waiting room or lobby at least (15) minutes before the actual proceedings. Should there be any problems accessing the virtual platform, participants should immediately inform the CSC hearing officer via email, phone call, or other electronic means.

Participants will be joining a test run shortly before an actual hearing in order to resolve any technical problems. They will also be briefed on the procedures before starting so they know what to expect during the proceedings. At this point, the CSC and the participants will be ensuring steady connectivity, clear audio and video connection, and correct settings in order to proceed smoothly.

Other procedures usually done during in-person hearings, such as placing a witness under oath, testifying, and presenting documentary or object evidence, will also be done online.

Grounds for cancelling

A virtual hearing may be suspended, or an in-person hearing may instead be ordered.

Should technical problems persist with any one of the participants despite conducting test runs and briefings, the hearing may be suspended.

If the exhibition, examination, or viewing of documentary evidence or the marking or examination of the object evidence is impossible, insufficient, or difficult due to the limitations of the virtual platform or some other compelling reasons, the in-person hearing may instead be ordered by the hearing officer for the purpose of presenting or completing the testimony of a witness.

At any time in the formal investigation, the parties may decide to terminate the proceedings by submitting their respective positions papers and submit the case for resolution.

Privacy and confidentiality

All virtual proceedings will be recorded and encrypted by the CSC, and any party may request in writing for the official recording of the proceeding for his or her use in relation to his or her case.

However, to maintain the confidentiality of the proceedings and the privacy of the personalities involved, parties are prohibited from recording, publishing, or posting in any public domain and social media platform the proceedings. Those who do so will be meted with a penalty or punished accordingly, after due process.

Sharing of the recorded proceedings and or its details and information is strictly prohibited and shall be considered a contempt of the Commission.

Any person found responsible for the alteration of video recordings shall be held liable administratively and criminally.

Other punishable acts

Any intentional disruption of digital communications intended to deny participation by any party, coaching of any witness presented for examination, and knowingly presenting falsified digital images or evidence will be considered as an administrative offense and shall be dealt with severely.

Administrative Justice

As a quasi-judicial body, the CSC continues to perform its mandate of hearing administrative cases and enforcing civil service rules and regulations. As the premiere human resource institution of the Philippine government, the CSC regards employee discipline as a means to create a fair and just working environment.