Section 1. 

   - It is the examination before a competent tribunal according to
     the laws of the land, of the facts put in issue in a case for
     the purpose of determining such issue.

   - It is not confined to trial but embraces the several stages of
     litigation, including the pre-trial stage.

Republic v. Sandiganbayan, 416 SCRA 133 (2003)
   - A hearing does not necessarily imply the presentation of oral or
     documentary evidence in open court but that the parties are afforded
     an opportunity to be heard.

After a plea of guilty is entered, the accused shall have at least 15
days to prepare for trial.

The trial shall commence within 30 days from receipt of the pre-trial

The trial judge does not lose jurisdiction to try the case after the
180-day limit. He may, however, be penalized with disciplinary
sanctions for failure to observe the prescribed limit without proper
authorization by the Supreme Court.

Requisites For Trial In Absentia
1. The accused has been arraigned
2. He has been notified of the trial
3. His failure to appear is unjustified

People v. Agbulos, G.R. No. 73907 (1993)
   - The purpose of trial in absentia is to speed up
     the disposition of criminal cases.

Effects Of Trial In Absentia
People v. Landicho, G.R. No. 119527 (1996)
   - The accused waives the right to present evidence
     and cross-examine the witnesses against him.

     The accused’s waiver does not mean, however, that the prosecution
     is deprived of the right to require the presence of the accused
     for purposes of identification by the witnesses which is vital for
     conviction of the accused, except where he unqualifiedly admits in
     open court after his arraignment that he is the person named as
     defendant in the case on trial.

Instances Where The Presence Of The Accused Is Required By Law:
1. On arraignment;
2. On promulgation of judgment except for light offenses;
3. For identification purposes;
4. When the court with due notice requires so