Davao RTC pioneers video conference arraignments

Sep. 02, 2019

DAVAO CITY, Philippines — The Davao City Regional Trial Court pioneered Monday, September 2, the arraignment of two cases without contact through the videoconferencing technology, the first in the country.

“This is very momentous,” Davao City Regional Trial Court (RTC) Executive Judge Emmanuel Carpio told media personnel in an interview after the arraignment of the two accused via video conference.

One of the accused is an alleged New People’s Army guerrilla while the other is facing a frustrated murder charge.

According to the Judge, the program’s advantages include the security, not just of the accused, but also of the prosecution and judges concerned.

It will also save time and resources of the Bureau of Jail Management and Penology (BJMP) that initiated the project.

“It will save much time not only among the court employees but also of the lawyers and judges because they may be affected by the BJMP vehicles,” said Carpio.

Currently, the videoconferencing covers high profile cases and cases where the accused may be physically indisposed or suffering from communicable diseases.

“For high profile cases, we may ensure more security on the part of the accused because they are more prone to ambush or rescue,” said Jail Inspector Helen Rose Saragena, chief of BJMP-Davao’s Community Relations and Welfare and Development.

She added that accused suffering from communicable diseases will be relieved from the problems of being transported from the jail to the courts.

Carpio also said they may cater special requests from the accused upon recommendation of the jail warden.

The judge however explained that there have been delays in the implementation of the program.

“Initially, the project of the BJMP started in 2018 but because of the lack of funding, the execution of the process was delayed,” said Carpio.

Now, the project has the support of the GoJust or Governance in Justice — a program of the national government with support from the European Union.

“We will be purchasing additional equipment and refurbishing the court room,” said Ingrid Gorre, a key expert Case Management Specialist of GoJust.

The equipment includes cameras, monitors, and microphones, among others.

“We will ensure that the sound quality is improved, no glare,” said Gorre.

She said that three courts in Davao City will have the setup for the videoconferencing technology. While in BJMP, three cubicles will also be setup with the same.

“There can be three simultaneous hearings,” said Gorre, mentioning that the three is set to be completed by October.

The courtroom and a designated hearing room in the jail were fitted with closed-circuit television (CCTV) monitors, speakers, and high-definition cameras that are linked through radio towers put up in the Davao Hall of Justice and the Davao City Jail. (davaotoday.com)

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