Are Electronic Signatures Legally Binding in the Philippines?

Legalities of Electronic Signatures in the Philippines
June 1, 2024 by

Electronic signatures have become integral to modern business operations, especially in the Philippines. Understanding the legal framework governing electronic signatures becomes crucial as digital transactions grow. This article explores the legal aspects, authentication methods, and benefits of electronic and digital signatures. UNAWA, the pioneering legal tech company in the Philippines, developed SignSecure, the country's only e-signature platform with facial recognition biometrics.

Understanding Electronic and Digital Signatures

Electronic Signature (eSignature): An electronic signature is any electronic sound, symbol, or process attached to or logically associated with a document and executed by a person intending to sign it. It serves as a digital equivalent of a handwritten signature, ensuring the authenticity and integrity of the signed document. Users can employ electronic signatures in various forms, such as a typed name, an image of a handwritten signature, or even a tick box in online forms.

Digital Signature: A digital signature, a subset of electronic signatures, uses cryptographic techniques to secure the document and verify the signer's identity. Due to their higher level of security, people often use digital signatures for sensitive or high-value transactions. Digital signatures involve using a unique digital certificate issued by a Certificate Authority (CA), which verifies the signer's identity and ensures that the document has not been tampered with since signing.

Legal Framework for Electronic Signatures

The E-Commerce Act (Republic Act No. 8792) governs electronic signatures in the Philippines, recognizing their legal validity and admissibility in evidence. The Act establishes that electronic documents and signatures have the same legal standing as their physical counterparts, provided they meet specific criteria.

E-Commerce Act (Republic Act No. 8792): Enacted in 2000, the E-Commerce Act provides the legal basis for electronic transactions, including electronic signatures. It aims to facilitate electronic commerce and streamline business processes by recognizing the validity of electronic documents and signatures. The Act underscores the government's commitment to promoting technology in business and ensuring that the legal environment adapts to the evolving digital landscape.

Authentication Methods: Various authentication methods are employed to ensure the authenticity and integrity of electronic signatures. These include:

  1. Password/PIN: This method is simple and commonly used for low-risk transactions. Users enter a password or PIN to verify their identity before signing a document electronically. While convenient, this method is less secure and more vulnerable to unauthorized access.
  2. Biometrics: Includes facial recognition, fingerprints, and voice recognition, offering a higher level of security. Biometric authentication methods are increasingly popular because they provide a unique and difficult-to-forge identifier for the signer.
  3. Digital Certificates are issued by trusted Certificate Authorities (CAs) to verify the identity of the signers. They create a digital fingerprint unique to the document and the signer, ensuring the highest security and authenticity.

Legal Validity and Admissibility

The legal validity of electronic signatures in the Philippines is well-established under the E-Commerce Act. People consider electronic signatures legally binding if they fulfill certain conditions.:

  1. Intent to Sign: The signer must intend to sign the document electronically. This intent can be demonstrated by typing a name, clicking an "I agree" button, or using a stylus to sign on a touchscreen.
  2. Consent to Do Business Electronically: Both parties must agree to use electronic signatures. This consent is often obtained through an initial agreement to conduct business electronically, ensuring that all parties are aware and agree with electronic signatures.
  3. Association with the Document: The electronic Signature must be logically associated with the document. This association typically uses signature fields, timestamps, and audit trails to link the signature to the signed document.
  4. The integrity of the Document: The document must be in its original form and not altered after signing. Digital signatures maintain document integrity by providing tamper-evident features that alert users to changes made after signing.

Admissibility in Evidence: Electronic signatures and documents are admissible in court, provided they meet the requirements set forth by the E-Commerce Act. They must be capable of being retained and accurately reproduced for future reference, ensuring their integrity and reliability. The Act recognizes that electronic records are as reliable and credible as paper records when adequately authenticated, making them suitable for legal proceedings.

Documents that Users Cannot Electronically Sign

While many people accept electronic signatures, the E-Commerce Act excludes certain documents from electronic signing. These include:

  1. Negotiable Instruments include checks, promissory notes, and bills of exchange. These instruments require physical signatures to ensure their validity and negotiability.
  2. Documents of Title: Such as bills for lading and warehouse receipts. The physical possession of these documents often signifies control over the goods they represent, necessitating a physical signature.
  3. Wills and Codicils are documents related to a deceased person's estate disposition. Due to their sensitive nature and potential disputes, people require physical signatures for wills and codicils to ensure the testator's authenticity and intent.
  4. Family Law Documents include marriage licenses and divorce decrees. These documents often require formal witnessing and notarization, which necessitate physical signatures to validate the identities and consent of the parties involved.

Benefits of Electronic and Digital Signatures

The shift towards electronic and digital signatures offers numerous benefits, transforming how businesses operate, and individuals interact with legal documents.

  1. Increased Efficiency: Electronic signatures eliminate the need for physical document handling, reducing the time and resources required for signing processes. Documents can be signed and processed in minutes, enabling faster decision-making and transaction completion.
  2. Cost Savings: Reducing the reliance on paper, printing, and postage leads to significant cost savings. Organizations can save on expenses related to paper, ink, printing equipment, and storage space for physical documents.
  3. Enhanced Security: Digital signatures provide robust security measures, including encryption and tamper-proof features, ensuring the integrity of signed documents. These features protect against unauthorized alterations and fraud, enhancing the trustworthiness of electronic transactions.
  4. Convenience: Signers can electronically sign documents from anywhere, at any time, using any device with internet access. This flexibility is particularly beneficial for remote work and international transactions, allowing parties to sign documents without physical presence.
  5. Environmental Impact: Reducing paper usage contributes to environmental sustainability by minimizing waste and conserving natural resources. Electronic signatures support green initiatives by decreasing the carbon footprint associated with traditional paper-based processes.

UNAWA and SignSecure

UNAWA stands at the forefront of legal tech innovation in the Philippines. As the creator of SignSecure, the only e-signature platform in the country with facial recognition biometrics, UNAWA ensures the highest level of security and user authentication.

SignSecure: This platform leverages advanced biometric technology to authenticate signers through facial recognition, providing a seamless and secure signing experience. SignSecure's robust security measures and user-friendly interface make it the preferred choice for businesses and individuals seeking reliable electronic signature solutions.

Facial Recognition Biometrics: Facial recognition biometrics adds an extra layer of security by verifying the signer's identity through unique facial features. This technology ensures that the person signing the document is the authorized signer, reducing the risk of fraud and impersonation. Facial recognition in SignSecure enhances user confidence by offering a secure, convenient, and efficient way to authenticate identities.

UNAWA's Role in Legal Tech: As a pioneering legal tech company, UNAWA continues to drive innovation in electronic and digital signatures, setting new standards for security and efficiency. Their commitment to advancing legal technology enhances the reliability and acceptance of electronic signatures in the Philippines. UNAWA's efforts contribute to modernizing legal processes, making them more accessible, transparent, and efficient for businesses and individuals.

The Future of Electronic Signatures

Adopting electronic and digital signatures is expected to grow as businesses and individuals recognize their benefits. The ongoing advancements in authentication technologies, such as biometrics, will further enhance the security and reliability of electronic signatures.

Biometric Authentication: Integrating biometric authentication methods like facial recognition and fingerprints will improve electronic signature platforms' security and user experience. As they become more sophisticated, these technologies will offer even better protection against fraud and unauthorized access. Biometrics provide a highly reliable means of verifying identity, making electronic signatures more secure than traditional methods.

Legal Reforms: Continued legal reforms and updates to the E-Commerce Act will play a crucial role in shaping the future of electronic signatures in the Philippines. These reforms will ensure the legal framework keeps pace with technological advancements, providing clear guidelines and protections for electronic transactions. Policymakers must stay abreast of technological trends and adjust regulations to support innovation while ensuring security and privacy.

Global Trends: The global trend toward digital transformation and the increasing acceptance of electronic signatures in international transactions will influence the Philippines. As more countries recognize the validity of electronic signatures, cross-border transactions will become more streamlined and secure. International standards and interoperability will be vital to facilitating global digital commerce and ensuring that electronic signatures are universally accepted.


Electronic and digital signatures have revolutionized how businesses and individuals handle documents in the Philippines. With the legal backing of the E-Commerce Act and innovative solutions from companies like UNAWA, people will use electronic signatures as the standard for secure and efficient document signing. The continued advancements in authentication technologies and legal reforms will further strengthen the adoption and acceptance of electronic signatures, paving the way for a more digital and connected future.

In conclusion, embracing electronic and digital signatures is a technological upgrade and a strategic move towards increased efficiency, cost savings, and enhanced security. As the Philippines progresses in its digital transformation journey, the role of electronic signatures will undoubtedly become even more significant, driving growth and innovation in various sectors. Organizations and individuals should recognize electronic signatures' transformative potential and take steps to integrate them into their workflows. Doing so will improve operational efficiency and contribute to a more sustainable and secure digital economy.

As we look ahead, the collaboration between legal tech companies, regulators, and businesses will be essential in fostering a robust ecosystem for electronic signatures. Together, they can ensure that the Philippines remains at the forefront of digital innovation, benefiting from the advantages of electronic and digital signatures. The future of electronic signatures is bright, and their impact on the legal and business landscapes will be profound and far-reaching. 

UNAWA June 1, 2024
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