Video conferencing trials to be tested next month in Davao City
MANILA, Philippines – Beginning September 2, video conferencing trials of high profile criminal cases will be tested in Davao City.
Video conferencing is a system that will allow the detained persons to testify and be crossed-examined while inside their detention cells. Supreme Court’s chairman of the Committee on Revision of Rules, Associate Justice Diosdado M. Peralta, said the new system would apply to pending and newly filed high-profile criminal cases.
It will be done by means of transmitted audio and video signals and where individuals meet one another in a real-time virtual manner “as if they were in the same room without the hassle and expense of traveling.”
The guidelines for video conferencing have been approved by the SC as a full court on recommendations made by Peralta.
The system will be used in high-profile cases referring to violations of the Human Security Act like terrorism, crimes against humanity, and those whose detained suspects are considered “high-value targets” because of the threats they may pose to the security of the jail facilities, the court, and the community.
Aside from high profile cases, detained persons who are seriously ill or those diagnosed with serious or grave medical conditions or with highly contagious disease or those detained in national penitentiaries may also be heard through video conferencing.
Currently, there are about 4,000 detainees in three Davao City jails that are managed by the Bureau of Jail Management and Penology (BJMP). Hundreds of Maute, Abu Sayaff and New People’s Army (NPA) members are detained in these jail facilities.
The system on video conferencing will be tested for not more than two years between the Davao City Hall of Justice and the Davao City jails, Court Administrator Jose Midas P. Marquez said.
Peralta and Marquez have conducted the training seminars for Davao City judges, prosecutors, lawyers from the Public Attorneys Office and jail wardens from the Davao City District Jail.
Actual demonstrations were held in the courtroom of Davao City regional trial court (RTC) Judge Emmanuel Carpio.
Peralta and Marquez said the courtroom and the hearing room were equipped with television monitors, speakers and high definition cameras, and linked by radio frequency through the towers put up in the Hall of Justice and the Davao City Jail.
Three courtrooms have been equipped with the needed facilities for video conferencing, Marquez said.
He said the “face to face” formula was borrowed from the United States experience but was not used in the 6th Amendment of the US Constitution. It actually pre-dates the US Constitution and can be found in the Declaration of Rights of Individual States which later found its way to US jurisprudence.
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