Baguio City – The Supreme Court (SC) has introduced the use of technology to allow high risk inmates to appear in legal proceedings remotely an executive judge of this city revealed.

Municipal Trial Court Executive Judge Glenda Ortiz-Soriano said the SC has allowed the use of “video-conferencing technology or remote appearance and testimony of certain persons deprived of liberty (PDLs) in jails and national penitentiary”.

Administrative Matter No. 19-05-05-SC stressed the rationale behind this by saying that “the in-court appearance of PDLs considered to be high-risk or afflicted with highly contagious diseases has posed serious risks to the safety, security, lives and health of not only the accused and those charged with transporting them between jail and court, but of judges, court personnel and the general public.”

Thus, to avoid either the “postponement of the proceedings or missed opportunities to be present (in court)”, the use of technology will enable PDLs to “appear and testify in court without having to leave the jail or national penitentiary.”

“This will allow them to be part of the proceedings albeit remotely, simulating as best as technology can, their actual presence in court,” Ortiz-Soriano said.

She further revealed that the guidelines are already laid out and is scheduled to be pilot-tested for less than two years in Davao courts and penitentiaries, and then evaluated before finally being adopted in all courts nationwide.

She noted though that the dismissals of cases triggered by the non-appearance of police witnesses are closely monitored both by the SC and the PNP’s Directorate for Investigation and Detective Management.

“This is important particularly for us in the city as we adjudicate violations of city ordinances, in particular, where police officers are the only or usual witnesses. Yet, amidst all of these new technology and changes, I pray that we never trade off good values — perseverance, grit and strength of character — for the ease of technology,” she said. (Jojo Mangahis)