February 29, 2024

The Bureau of Jail Management and Penology-Cordillera is lobbying the courts for the adoption of tele-hearing to speed up trial of cases of persons deprived of liberty (PDLs). 

BJMP-Cordillera Director, JS/Supt. Kenneth Bid-ing, during a presserat Camp Bado Dangwa on Jan. 30, said the tele-hearing system using the digital platform to hear cases would help solve the problem of non-appearance of some witnesses and government agents due to safety and distance concerns. 

“We are lobbying in court na kung pwede tele-hearing na lang lahat para at least di na kamimag-escort ng PDLs papunta sa court. Bawas risk din iyon,” Bid-ing said.

The tele-hearing was first used during the pandemic due to restrictions and the practice continued but depending on the cases litigated in courts. 

The BJMP, through its paralegal team, is conducting collaborative efforts with the Department of Justice, Public Attorneys’ Office, the various courts, prosecutors and law enforcement agencies for their presence especially during case hearings of PDLs.

One of the persisting challenges in the delay of trials is the absence of any of the witnesses or law enforcers, mostly due to travel distance as some of them are assigned in areas far from the venue of the court.

Sometimes, Bid-ing said the summons are also not promptly delivered or received by the concerned individuals or offices.  

Despite this, BJMP is conducting other paralegal activities to help facilitate the immediate release of PDLs, which also helps in decongesting the jails in the region.

BJMP-Cordillera reported a 143 percent congestion rate for the jails in the region. But Bid-ing said the region noted a 10 percent decrease in PDLs from 2023 where there are currently 948 prisoners in various prison cells in the region. Of this, 20 percent are female and 80 percent are male. – Ofelia C. Empian