All systems go for the first criminal trial via videoconferencing
The Supreme Court will begin tomorrow (Monday) the first ever trial via video conferencing at the Davao City regional trial court (RTC) where a case for frustrated murder, and the other one for multiple attempted murder on the court’s agenda.
The video conferencing will allow suspects in criminal cases to testify and be cross-examined without leaving their detention cells.
According to Court Administrator Jose Midas P. Marquez, the hearing room of Judge Emmanuel Carpio has been already equipped with television monitors, speakers, and high definition cameras, and linked by radiofrequency via he towers put up in the Hall of Justice and the Davao City Jail.
The first case involves the frustrated murder charge filed in 2013 against Romart Mandi Uy who has been detained in the Davao City jail.
On the other hand, the second case involves two suspected communist rebels, namely against Ryan Pitao, alias “Ka Ryan,” and Aquilino Gonzales, alias “Banakon.”
Persons Deprived of Liberty (PDLs) will no longer have to be transported out of the jail to the court to attend trial.
Instead, they will be attending trial in the hearing room inside the jail and see and hear the judge and the witnesses against him or her through a tv monitor.
The judge and the witnesses who are physically in court will likewise see and hear the PDLs in jail through tv monitors installed inside the courtroom. Even object evidence and documents may be presented in court through the tv monitors.
The Supreme Court approved the “Proposed Guidelines on the Use of Videoconferencing Technology for the Remote Appearance and Testimony of Certain Persons Deprived of Liberty in Jails and National Penitentiaries” upon the recommendation of the Special Committee organized to draft the guidelines, headed by Justice Diosdao Peralta and composed of Court Marquez and their respective staff. Supreme Court Justice Alexander Gesmundo stood as a Resource Person.
The videoconferencing procedure will reduce, if not totally eliminate, “the serious risks to the safety, security, lives, and health of not only the accused and those charged with transporting them between the jail and court, but of judges, court officers and personnel, and the general public as well,” the Court resolution read.
It will also eliminate transportation and travel costs, and increase efficiency in court proceedings since the PDLs and witnesses can appear remotely.
Those covered are PDLs accused of violations of the Human Security Act, or any law penalizing terrorism or terrorism-related offenses; PDLs accused of violations of the Philippine Act on Crimes Against International Humanitarian Law, Genocide, and other Crimes Against Humanity; and PDLs considered as “high-value targets” because of the considerable threat they pose to the security of the jail facilities, the court, or the community, which include, but not limited to, suspected members of terrorist groups, both local and foreign, and other organized crime syndicates.
PDLs who are seriously ill, or diagnosed with a serious or grave medical condition or a highly contagious disease shall likewise remotely appear in court through videoconferencing.
PDLs who wish to appear in court through videoconferencing, regardless of the crime they are charged with, may likewise avail of the videoconferencing technology.
Finally, PDLs who are serving sentences in national penitentiaries will have to likewise appear in court through videoconferencing as they cannot be brought out of the state penitentiaries.
Criminal trials through videoconferencing will also cover both pending and newly-filed cases.