Published 31 October 2022, The Daily Tribune
In a previous article, we have acquainted ourselves with the nature of bail and its importance in upholding the bedrock principle of the constitutional presumption of innocence. While it is valuable that we understand bail as a concept, it is equally important to know how to operationalize the posting of one, in case the need arises.
In its continuous desire to streamline court processes and afford timely bail remedies to the accused, the Supreme Court recently issued the Guidelines for the Posting of Bail or OCA Circular 204-2022-A.
Geared towards uniformity and ease of identification in the requirements for bail, the guidelines enumerate the minimum documentary requirements for the processing of bail.
For cash bail, the following documents must be submitted: (1) Certified True Copy or Official Court Copy of the Information; (2) Four sets of the accused’s picture showing his/her front, left and right profiles, with the name and signature of the accused at the back of each picture which must be taken within the last six months; (3) Accused’s left and right handprints or fingerprints; (4) Barangay Certification intended for bail purposes, reflecting accused’s real name and residence; (5) Location plan or house sketch of the accused as certified by the barangay; (6) notarized Undertaking and Waiver of Appearance.
In case the accused is detained, or when he or she voluntarily surrenders to the police in a place different from the location of the court where the case is pending, a Certificate of Detention showing the name, designation and signature of the personnel authorized to use the said certificate must also be submitted.
The Certificate of Detention may be dispensed with in cases where the accused has opted to post bail before the court where the case is pending but he or she has not voluntarily surrendered to the police or is not in police custody.
The aforementioned requirements must be accompanied by the bail amount as recommended or imposed by the court. In cases where no bail is necessary or has been required or recommended by the court, a Certified True Copy of the court order stating such should likewise be submitted. This copy may be requested from the court where the case is pending.
The Supreme Court also streamlined the applicable process involving an accused with multiple pending applications for bail arising from the filing of multiple cases. For instance, if multiple cases are pending against the same accused in the same court and the documentary requirements for bail are similar for the cases, the accused will no longer be required to produce several original copies of the requirements. In such a case, the clerk of court where the case is pending shall just reproduce and certify the documents as true copies thereof.
However, cases involving the same accused are not necessarily raffled to the same branch. In the event that the cases are raffled to different branches of the same station, it is the accused who should be responsible for reproducing the copies of the bail requirements.
The certification by the clerk of court where the previously approved bail has been processed and approved shall likewise be required. Upon certification, the accused may forward the requirements to the other branch where the bail application is still pending.
Original documents must still be provided by the accused if the cases are pending before different stations.
The Supreme Court also cautioned that while courts may add to these basic requirements, the processing of bail should not be precluded by the imposition of additional requirements by the court concerned.
Bail is cognate with one’s right to be presumed innocent until proven guilty. Thus, when such a remedy is available to an accused, its availment must be unhampered by any procedural or logistical challenges.