1st court trial via video conference launched in Davao

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DAVAO CITY — A Regional Trial Court (RTC) branch here conducted the first case hearing via a Video Conference involving high risk and high profile inmates from Maa City Jail.

RTC Branch 16 Judge Emmanuel Carpio presided the hearings for the arraignment of Leonilo Gonzales alias Banakon, who is charged of attempted murder and the preliminary trial of Romart Mandi Uy for frustrated murder. 

“This is a momentous day for the courts because this an initial project of the BJMP (Bureau of Jail Management and Penology) who found the need this video conference trial, “Carpio said in an interview. 

Carpio said the first trial was a success since the hearing ran smooth, it took them 25-minutes to dispense the hearing.

Two television monitors were installed which was connected to three cameras. The main camera was positioned in front of the judge and below it was the monitor, where the accused can been seen during the hearing.

Another monitored was installed beside the judge, for the lawyers, prosecutors and other parties to see the accusedd.

The cameras were strategically installed for every one to witness the proceedings.

The connection was established with the use of a two-way radio frequency signal so that it will not be interrupted while on trial. 

Carpio said “I find no difficulties as long you know the procedure of a court trial and as long as the both parties are ready. ”

The RTC executive judge said the BJMP proposed the system in 2017 due to security concerns during the transport of high risk from the jail to the hall of justice.

The distance between the hall of Justice to the jail is estimated at about 6 kilometers which takes an hour to travel during peak hours.

Carpio said he wrote a request to the Supreme Court for the approval of BJMP-11 proposal but it was halted since there were no funds available for this. 

“Finally, GOJUST (Governance in Justice of European Union) came in and willingly took the cajoles of funding this project,” he said. 

He said prior to the official Video Conference hearing, a technical run-through was conducted last week with Justice Diosdado.

Carpio said the Video Conference hearing will be also available to the persons deprived of liberty (PDL) who have communicable diseases or those who cannot walk due to some illness such stroke and others.

Meanwhile, GO JUST case management specialist lawyer Ingrid L. Gorre said the project is part of Davao Justice Zone program. 

She said the RTC Branch 16 is just a pilot court and there will be two more salas in the city which will be installed with the equipment for a fast and  convenient conduct of trial. 

For  BJMP Davao spokesperson Jail Insp. Edo B Lobenia, this will be a great help especially in our escorting duties of those Persons Deprived of Liberty that are classified as High Risk and High Profile.

He said the BJMP and the Supreme Court has partnered for the use of video conferencing technology that would allow detained persons to testify and be cross-examined on their criminal cases inside their detention cells.

” This is, indeed, a breakthrough in the Jail Management  and Penology System in the Philippines” he said. –Armando Fenequito Jr.

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