The Supreme Court has allowed trial courts in Davao City starting Sept. 2 to conduct trials and hearings on high-profile criminal cases through video conferencing, a system that would enable detained persons to testify and be cross-examined inside their detention cells.
Hearings and trials via video conferencing will apply to pending and newly filed high-profile criminal cases, said Associate Justice Diosdado M. Peralta, chair of the SC committee on revision of rules.
High-profile cases are those involving 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.
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, the SC said.
Records showed that there are about 4,000 detainees in three Davao City jails that are managed by the Bureau of Jail Management and Penology. Hundreds of Maute Group, Abu Sayaff Group, and New People’s Army 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.
Video conferencing is “the holding of a conference among people at remote locations 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.” (Rey Panaligan)