By Roy Mabasa
Nine Supreme Court justices and more than 30 Court of Appeals justices have participated in the United States-sponsored training on cybercrime in support of the Philippine court’s implementation of the new Rule on Cybercrime Warrants (RCW).
The training of Philippine justices was facilitated by the U.S. Embassy in Manila on March 25, 2019, through the U.S. Department of Justice (U.S. DOJ) Office of Overseas Prosecutorial Development, Assistance, and Training (OPDAT), and in coordination with the Supreme Court Sub-Committee on Commercial Courts (SCC).
According to the US Embassy, the training does not only support the implementation of the RCW but also help address new issues posed by emerging computer-facilitated crimes, including digital security and privacy risks.
The RCW implementation will facilitate the detection, investigation, and prosecution of cybercrime offenses.
Also, the training is part of an OPDAT partnership with the Philippines to build government capacity to effectively fight cyber-enabled crimes.
Ovie Carroll, U.S. DOJ Computer Crime and Intellectual Property Section (CCIPS) Cybercrime Laboratory Director, and Daniel Ogden, CCIPS Senior Digital Investigative Analyst, discussed the nuances and evidentiary value of computer data in comparison to traditional evidence, as well as the security risks and benefits inherent in digital devices.
The two US officials also shared techniques for gathering, preserving, and analyzing digital evidence. Their presentation provided the justices with practical insights to help them apply and enhance the RCW.
Supreme Court Chief Justice Lucas Bersamin cited the importance of the briefing on cybercrime for people in the judiciary.
“The speed of technological development creates blind spots in matters of personal security and privacy. The briefing on digital security was truly informative and invaluable for us in the Judiciary,” Bersamin said.
For his part, Court of Appeals Presiding Judge Ramon Barza, who attended the session for appellate justices, said, “The talk gave a refreshing view on the impact of cyber technology on gathering evidence and building up cases, especially for the prosecution.”
The U.S. Embassy, through its training program, is working with Philippine partners to enhance justice sector capabilities via training for judges, prosecutors, law enforcement officials, and government agencies on combating transnational crimes.
In addition, OPDAT helped develop instructional videos and a new cybercrime course for criminology schools nationwide.
The next OPDAT cybercrime training for northern Luzon judges is set on April 4 to 5 in Baguio City.