Pokemon GO away: Judge bans game from Cebu court

ABS-CBN News

Posted at Aug 11 2016 02:52 PM | Updated as of Aug 11 2016 03:06 PM

Video interview by Edison Delos Angeles of Dyab Cebu.

MANILA – If you are going to play Pokemon GO, you better do it away from a court room, or you might face jail time or pay a fine.

A judge in Cebu City has threatened to charge anyone caught playing the popular mobile game in her court with contempt, as she said it disrupts proceedings.

"Under pain of contempt, Pokemon catching inside the court is strictly prohibited. Justice may be blind but it can see Pokemon catchers. Violators will face fine and imprisonment," said a sign written in blue and red marker on bond paper posted by Judge Yvonne Cabaron Artiaga in her courtroom.

Photo by Annie Fe Perez, ABS-CBN News Cebu

She put up the warning after seeing a witness' companion "smacking" his phone, which she thought was a sign that he was looking for the virtual creatures in the room.

"It is my inherent power to cite anyone in contempt if they disrupt the proceedings in court. They can be fined or jailed," said Artiaga, who presides over Municipal Trial Court in Cities Branch 3 in Cebu City.

The judge likewise posted a sign outside her office door warning visitors to keep their Pokemon hunting away from the judge's chambers.

"Lawyers & Litigants: There is no Pokemon in my chamber. I will use to the full extent of my contempt power for any Pokemon related disturbance. Knock at your own risk," the sign said.

Photo by Annie Fe Perez, ABS-CBN News Cebu

In the Philippines, direct contempt of an inferior court such as the Court of Appeals, the Court of Tax Appeals; the Regional Trial Courts, the Metropolitan Trial Courts; and the Sandiganbayan is punishable by a fine not exceeding P200 or imprisonment not exceeding one day, or both.

People found guilty of contempt of the high court, however, may pay a fine not exceeding P2,000 or imprisonment not exceeding 10 days, or both.

Pokemon GO, developed by US-based Niantic, Inc. was launched on August 6 in the Philippines, to the delight of numerous fans of the Japanese animated series. It was initially launched in select countries in July, but fans of the anime in other countries installed illicitly-circulated copies of the game, causing the game’s servers, unprepared to handle the massive traffic, to crash.

The augmented-reality game uses GPS positioning to guide players around an area to find cute animal-like creatures called Pokemon, which players can see on their phone overlaid on the image of a location in the real world. Players walk around to hunt and catch Pokemon, which they can then pitch in battles against other players.

Around the world, people are either supportive of or irritated by the players who often walk around parks, buildings, and tourists spots with phones in hand. Some have put up signs either welcoming players or shooing them away from private property.

Upon launch, the game reportedly beat popular social media applications such as Tinder, Twitter, and Facebook in number of downloads from mobile app stores.

-- With a report from Edison delos Angeles, ABS-CBN News Cebu