Court to start ‘video-hearing’ for high risk, sickly inmates

Supreme Court of the Republic of the Philippines

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MANILA — The use of video-teleconferencing for high risk detainees to be tried without the need to actually being physically present inside courtrooms was recently authorized in new court rules and will soon be tested, the Supreme Court (SC) said Monday, February 11.

Midas Marquez, Court Administrator  said the new system will be pilot-tested in Davao City Jail, where members of terrorist groups Maute, Abu Sayaff and New People’s Army (NPA) are currently detained.

This is part of the judicial reform agenda of Chief Justice Lucas Bersamin, Midas said.

Associate Justice Diosdado Peralta, chairman of the new SC revision of rules committee, drafted the guidelines where accused may give testimony remotely and may attend court hearings from their cells.

“This is trailblazing because it can pave the way for long-distance court appearances of OFWs working abroad who have pending civil cases in the country,” Peralta said.

High-risk detainees and detainees diagnosed with grave and serious medical conditions will no longer need to physically appear before the courts and may face trial while inside the jails.

A 100-foot monopole tower with broadcast equipment was built within the Davao Hall of Justice, it will be connected to the three jail facilities in the city.

The High Court assured that the constitutional rights of the accused will be protected through procedural safeguards in the implementing rules.

This innovative judicial process was approved upon the request of Davao City Jail Warden, Supt. Grace Taculin, who cited security threats in the transportation of high-risk detainees with terrorism cases and spread of diseases in courts.

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