Supreme Court of the Philippines. (Photo from WikiMedia [Aerous])

The Supreme Court (SC) has included Puerto Princesa on the list of 20 first-level courts nationwide where the Judiciary Electronic Payment Solution (JEPS) will be pilot tested.

In a statement it released on March 3, the SC said “payment of fees in selected trial courts across the country, not only for small claims, can now be made online.”

Pursuant to OCA Circular No. 44-2022, signed by newly appointed Court Administrator Raul B. Villanueva on Wednesday, March 2, 2022, the Supreme Court directed the following first-level courts to pilot test JEPS:

  • Quezon City Metropolitan Trial Court (MeTC)
  • Mandaluyong MeTC
  • San Juan City MeTC
  • Malolos City, Bulacan Municipal Trial Court in Cities (MTCC_
  • Baguio City, Benguet MTCC
  • Angeles City, Pampanga MTCC
  • Cabuyao City, Laguna MTCC
  • Naga City, Camarines Sur MTCC
  • Vigan City, Ilocos Sur MTCC
  • Ilagan City, Isabela MTCC
  • Puerto Princesa City, Palawan MTCC
  • Bacolod City, Negros Occidental MTCC
  • Lapu-lapu City, Cebu MTCC
  • Dumaguete City, Negros Oriental MTCC
  • Tacloban City, Leyte MTCC
  • Zamboanga City, Zamboanga del Sur MTCC
  • Cagayan de Oro City, Misamis Oriental MTCC
  • Cotabato City, Maguindanao MTCC
  • Dipolog City, Zamboanga del Norte MTCC

The Court ordered all Clerks of Court (COC) and Acting Clerks of Court (ACOC) of the 20 pilot courts to adopt the JEPS Interim Guidelines Implementation, which, among other things, designates the Union Bank of the Philippines (UBP) system as an alternative mode of payment of legal fees and other collections, in addition to the Fortune Pay Online Portal, until the latter is integrated with the system.

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The COCs and ACOCs of the pilot courts will post instructions on how to pay electronically using the UBP system on the payment windows or bulletin boards of their respective courts, both in English and in the local dialect of the place where the pilot court is located, to properly inform the public about the JEPS.

The SC said the JEPS is aimed at making the assessment and payment of legal fees and other collections of the Judiciary more convenient by providing the litigants, their counsels/representatives, and persons requesting for clearances, certifications, and other services from the court the option to pay online through major banks as conduit.

The system is currently limited to Union Bank accounts (no convenience fee), bank transfer through instaPay and PESONet (both with convenience fee), the SC said.

The pilot-testing of the JEPS in the selected courts is an offshoot of the memorandum of agreement entered into by the Supreme Court and the UBP on March 15, 2021 for the latter to develop an ePayment solution for the Judiciary.

On July 23, 2021, the Supreme Court launched the Judiciary ePayment for Small Claims, the online payment of legal fees for small claims cases. The launch was made following the signing of a MOA between the Court and Easypay Global EMI Corp. (EGEC), the owner of Fortune Pay which is a mobile wallet app that enables users to enjoy an easy, fast, and secure way of digital payment.

Then Court Administrator and now Supreme Court Associate Justice Jose Midas P. Marquez was the principal signatory on behalf of the Court in both the MOAs with UBP and EGEC.

The JEPS, open to all banks and their account holders, is an application designed to provide the Supreme Court and all the courts in the country the option to receive fees and payments digitally from litigants, their counsels, and representatives on a safe, secure, real-time, and 24/7 basis from anywhere at their convenience.

It involves an automated tool that will allow authorized judiciary personnel to process and manage payment related activities swiftly and efficiently. It is aimed at streamlining the processes of assessment and payment of court fees, increasing accessibility of the public to judicial services, increasing transparency and accountability, and providing the Supreme Court with efficient accounting and auditing mechanisms.

In July of last year, the Supreme Court also launched the Bar Personalized Login Unified System (Bar PLUS) website to facilitate applications for the 2021/2022 Bar Examinations held in February 2022.

At the time of its launch, applicants were directed to pay for their Bar application fee via over the counter cash deposit in Landbank of the Philippines branches nationwide. Bar applicants had the additional option to pay their Bar application fees online through (i) Landbank Link.Biz portal and (ii) the Judiciary ePayment Solutions.

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