SC allows courts to issue e-warrants to PNP arresting officers
MANILA, Philippines — The Philippine National Police can now make arrests based on “e-warrants.”
Calling it a “monumental first for the Philippine justice system,” the Supreme Court has allowed courts to digitally transmit arrest warrants to the PNP, which will use the e-warrants to apprehend people facing court cases.
The latest judicial innovation followed the “e-inquests” and online court hearings, which both use videoconference technology, that were allowed since March and April due to the COVID-19 lockdown.
Chief Justice Diosdado Peralta and the newly appointed PNP chief, Gen. Camilo Cascolan, launched the Enhanced e-Warrant System in a simple ceremony at the Supreme Court in Manila on Tuesday.
Peralta and Cascolan, with Court Administrator Midas Marquez, PNP Director for Investigation and Detective Management Maj. Gen. Elmo Sarona and Supreme Court public information chief Brian Keith Hosaka, viewed the database as the first e-warrant was issued by Judge Maria Gracia Cadiz-Casaclang of the Pasig Regional Trial Court Branch 155 involving a case of qualified theft.
According to the Supreme Court, the Enhanced e-Warrant System will “fully automate the issuance of arrest warrants by our courts for a speedier and more effective service by our law enforcement agents.”
The online database of arrest warrants will provide real-time updates on the status of warrants and the specific actions taken by law enforcement agents, it added.
All necessary details for the issuance of an arrest warrant are electronically encoded and generated by the system, and then instantaneously transmitted to the police station that has jurisdiction over the residence of the accused and to the police station that filed the complaint. Upon receipt of the e-warrant, police officers have 10 days to report through the system whether they have served the e-warrant or to state the reason if they failed to serve the warrant.
The real-time feedback mechanism can be viewed by all the courts nationwide, according to the high court.
All courts can access the system to find out whether an accused has pending cases in other courts, which will eliminate any delay in the release of an accused who is the namesake of another accused in another case.
The Supreme Court said it aimed to fully implement the e-warrant system before the end of the year, so all 2,600 courts and 1,900 police stations in the country could undergo trainings online on how to use the system.
“We are able to adopt technologically advanced innovations in our court processes for a more accessible, efficient, effective and responsive administration of justice,” Peralta said.
Cascolan said the e-warrant system “will contribute in securing an ideal scale of effectiveness in crime solution.”
Due to the lockdown since March, government prosecutors were allowed to hold “e-inquests” or inquests through video calls or any online platform so that law enforcers no longer had to physically present the arrested person before the prosecutor.
During an inquest, the prosecutor decides whether a person who was arrested without warrant should be released or charged in court.
Since April, the Supreme Court has allowed courts to hear bail petitions and to conduct case trials by videoconference.
Courts were also allowed to receive and resolve by email complaints for criminal charges, petitions for bail and other court motions.
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