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Rough Cuts | High tech trials and the GCTA

For the last many months vehicular traffic in Davao City’s southern and northern routes has been burgeoning into what seems to be its worse.

But over the past few days vehicle traffic started getting even worst after floods hit certain areas in the city’s southern and southwestern sectors the other Wednesday rendering two relief bailey bridges spanning the Talomo river in Ulas impassable.

Since that day we have seen footages of the extremely heavy traffic especially during rush hours in the morning and more in the afternoon when people working in downtown establishments and offices are commuting for home.

Last Monday and Tuesday afternoons we were not just witness to the road standstill, we were also in one of the vehicles that could hardly move two meters every time brake has to be applied. Imagine this travel time: It took the car we were on board one hour to negotiate the stretch from the office building of the Government Service Insurance Service (GSIS) in Matina to the junction of Catalunan Grande in Bangkal. That is only a distance of about two and a half kilometers.

We were informed that because the two bailey bridges are temporarily shut off to vehicles the remaining access and egress going to Toril and Calinan and back are the old Ulas bridge shortly before reaching a beverage plant, and the relief road from C.P. Garcia Highway cutting across the Davao-Bukidnon road proceeding to Toril via Lubogan . The new bridge beside the old one is still undergoing repair. This new bridge was built much later than the first one that has survived many floods over the last 30 years.

Meanwhile, in the one hour that we were caught in the traffic mess last Tuesday we could not help thinking of the gravity of the situation had there been no relief road that some of the vehicles going to Calinan or Toril can take.

But still we believe that for now the best shot to address the traffic problem pestering the city’s southern route is the early completion of the coastal highway from Sta. Ana to Toril. Hence, we can assume that many Davaoenos especially those living in the south and southwest areas, may be praying hard that there will be no hitches in its construction.

Can our friend Dean Ortiz of the Department of Public Works and Highways (DPWH) XI update the public of the present status of the multi-billion peso infrastructure project please?

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Court hearings in Davao City are now getting more sophisticated. This came after the introduction of the video conferencing technology in the hearing of cases of two suspected New People’s Army (NPA) rebels who are considered high risk by military authorities.

Presiding Regional Trial Court (RTC) Executive Judge Emmanuel Carpio did the arraignment and pre-trial of the two suspected rebels without them physically present in the court. Instead they remained inside the confines of the jail but situated in a room where the video conferencing equipment were set up.

We agree to observations by many that doing a video conferencing hearing would reduce the risk of the accused inmates escaping while being transported from prison to the court house and back. We also believe that the chances of high risk inmates like NPA rebels and suspected terrorists being sprung out by their comrades while in transit to the courts and back to prison are remote under this system.

This trend-setting procedure in trying cases against presumed high risk suspects being pioneered in Davao City is indeed a welcome development.

But what good can this sophistication in disposing of cases when those accused who have already been convicted and are serving time in jail suddenly get their freedom under the Good Conduct Time Allowance (GCTA) law?

Imagine these reports of convicts supposedly sentenced to life imprisonment suspiciously released after applying for freedom under that law? And it is even much puzzling to know that most of those who get their release from prison under the GCTA are the moneyed ones like the Chinese drug lords and politicians.

Yes, our reading of the proceedings in the Senate investigation on the GTCA fiasco somehow leads us to suspect that the implementation of the law in the Bureau of Correction is lucrative business by some people in that agency.

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