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DICT urges lawyers, IBP staff to use digital signatures

The Department of Information and Communications Technology (DICT) has urged lawyers and key staff of the Integrated Bar of the Philippines (IBP) to use digital signatures as they practice law online.

The DICT offered the IBP the Philippine National Public Key Infrastructure (PNPKI) services, which allow users to apply and install digital certificates online, the department said in a press statement on Wednesday.

Using digital signatures will "ease the electronic signing of pleadings; ensure the integrity of legal documents; and protect lawyers during the conduct of general law practice online," the DICT said.

GMA News Online has sought comment from the IBP.

A total of 1,251 people from the public and the private sectors are using PNPKI, the DICT said, citing a recent user feedback survey.

The department added that it earlier offered digital certificates to prosecutors and officers of the Department of Justice's National Prosecution Service to support its online inquest proceedings.

The DICT said it is also discussing with the IBP the viable means to ensure fast and reliable internet connection in Philippine courts to improve the feasibility of online hearings.

The IBP, the organization of all Philippine lawyers, has urged the Supreme Court (SC) to make online trial court hearings "general rule."

The SC has allowed 1,500 courts nationwide to conduct hearings through videoconferencing as the country remains in varying levels of community quarantine amid the COVID-19 crisis.—AOL, GMA News