Yesterday was a milestone in the history of our courts. It was the first time that a court hearing was done via videoconferencing at the sala of Regional Trial Court (RTC) Executive Judge Emmanuel Carpio. The first case to be tried using this technology was the arraignment of Leonilo Gonzales, a suspected member of the New People’s Army classified as a high-risk inmate. The second case was the pre-trial of a frustrated murder.
Using modern technology to hasten the disposition of cases may be the answer to the perennial complaint on the slow grinding of the wheels of justice in our country. Judge Carpio was said to conduct the arraignment and pre-trial of the two cases in 15 minutes, with both accused appearing in court through video teleconferencing.
In 2017, the Bureau of Jail Management and Penology in the region was already raising the possibility of using this technology, especially as many of the accused inside jails were considered high risk. With video teleconferencing, court hearings become more efficient, saves them time and resources as there is no need to transport the accused to the court.
Judge Carpio also said that one of the program’s advantages include the security of the prosecution and judges concerned.
Pioneered in the city, this is on a two-year pilot testing as approved by the Supreme Court en banc on June 25, 2019 and supported by the program Governance in Justice. It is designed to be used in criminal proceedings, including arraignment, pre-trial, bail hearing, trial proper and promulgation of judgment
To support the program, we expect equipment to be purchased in both sites (courts and jails), and rooms to be built in the BJMP facility. With yesterday’s experience, the court has crossed the proverbial Rubicon. We are seeing a new dawn in our justice system.