SC Justice Carpio: IT need not be expensive

Speaking at the 11th commencement exercises of the University of the Philippines Mindanao this morning, Carpio said that at a cost of only P300,000 the Supreme Court was able to set up an internet and electronic-based library resource that helped hasten and improve the access of judges nationwide to Supreme Court decisions within 48 hours from promulgation.

Carpio’s speech, “ Final Words for the Iskolar ng Bayan,” wove the story on the SC’s effort of setting up its low-cost E-Library around a general theme of “search for the truth.”  

“Recently, our nation struggled to find out the truth about the National Broadband Network Project. You may not be happy with the outcome but do not despair for the story does not end there.  In the end, the truth will see the light of day,” he said.

On March 25, the Supreme Court, voting 9 – 6, ruled that Commission on Higher Education Romulo Neri can invoke executive privilege and cannot be compelled to answer three question which the Senate says is crucial to its inquiry on the national broadband project.

Carpio was among the six dissenters but he concurred with the majority in ruling that the Senate gravely abused its discretion in citing Neri in contempt and in issuing the warrant for his arrest.

The aborted but controversial NBN deal between the government and China ZTE Corporation would have cost the government $329 million (P13.16 billion at P40 to US $1). A Senate Blue Ribbon Committee investigation implicated First Gentleman Jose Miguel Arroyo, then Commission on Election Chair Benjamin Abalos and other officials in alleged corruption and overpricing of the deal that was supposed to have cost only $129 million (P5.16 billion).

In emphasizing that “technology does not have to be expensive,” Carpio also shared that a director of another government agency once told him that his office has spent over P100 million in setting up their own E-Library. Without naming the agency and its director, Carpio said that the director’s E-Library was even limited to bibliographic search and not a full text unlike the one set up by SC which is a full text search of all of its recent decisions.

“Our cost in setting up the Supreme Court E-Library was a pittance compared to that,” Carpio said, referring to the P100 million peso cost in setting up an E-Library in the unnamed government agency.   

Carpio said that shortly after joining the High Court in 2001, he volunteered to set up
the Supreme Court E-Library with a “simple vision” of seeing “every judge in the country” have all the SC laws and decisions “at his or her finger tips.”

Carpio said the move to establish the E-Library was prompted by the problem that most judges in the country do not have access to the latest SC decisions with some receiving copies only after one or two years of promulgation

Carpio said he put up two electronic libraries, a web-based and in compact discs for judges who do not have internet access. Both versions are powered by a search engine which  he had used when he was still into private practice.  Carpio said that the cost of all the software, which he simply downloaded from the vendors site, was less than P300,000.

The High Court’s web-based, full-text search and retrieval electronic library, which they were able to set up in only eight months, was the first among the judiciaries in Asia, according to Carpio.

The SC decisions are uploaded to the E-Library website within 48 hours from its promulgation while those in compact discs are updated twice a year. The compact discs, which costs the SC less than P12 for every copy, are sent by registered mails to all judges in the country.

He said before setting up the E-Library, the SC used to ship volumes of books to judges but today they would only send two discs.

Carpio said that a Social Weather Station survey before the E-Library showed that majority of judges in the country did not receive copies of the latest decisions of the Supreme Court. He said that a second survey after the E-Library was established showed that the “situation had turned around” as majority of the judges already received copies of the latest SC decisions.

“Right now, any judge anywhere in the country has two ways of accessing the E-Library. If the judge has an Internet connection, the judge can go, any time of the day, to the E-Library website of the Supreme Court,” Carpio said.

A total of 128 students graduated this year from UP Mindanao: 48 from the College of Humanities and Social Sciences, 56 from the College of Science and Mathematics and 24 from the School of Management. (Jowel F. Canuday/MindaNews)