Chief Justice Alexander Gesmundo is paid a virtual courtesy call by the leaders of the Justice Sector Reform Program: Governance in Justice (GOJUST) II on Tuesday, May 25, 2021, which coincidentally marks the 11thyear of continuous cooperation and support extended by the European Union to the Philippines concerning the administration of justice reckoned from the signing of the Joint Declaration of the Justice Sector Agencies in Support of the Affective and Efficient Administration of Justice in 2010.
The GOJUST II delegates were headed by Christian Eldon, Team Leader of the Technical Assistance Team (British Council), and Joy Jakosalem-Balane, Senior Project Manager of the United Nations Office for project Services (UNOPS). Court Administrator Jose Midas
P. Marquez and SC Spokesperson and Public Information Office Chief Atty. Brian Keith F. Hosaka joined the Chief Justice at the SC Division Hearing Room where the videoconferencing was set-up.
This comes on the heels of last week’s courtesy call to the Chief Justice by the European Union (EU) led by His Excellency, Ambassador Luc Veron, who had committed to support the Philippine government in implementing GOJUST II. The EU was acknowledged by the Chief Justice as one of our active, generous, and strategic partners in judicial reform, not just for the Judiciary, but for the entire justice sector.
Chief Justice Gesmundo considers the event auspicious as it marks the eleventh year of continuous cooperation and support extended by the European Union to the Philippines concerning the administration of justice reckoned from the signing of the Joint Declaration of the Justice Sector Agencies in Support of the Affective and Efficient Administration of Justice on April 20, 2010.
Chief Justice Gesmundo expressed high hopes for GOJUST II as he noted the successes of GOJUST I—the intensive docket decongestion activities for 94 heavily burdened courts; the re- engineering of Judiciary offices performing crucial functions, which are the Management Information System Office (MISO) and the Office of the Court Administrator (OCA)- Office on Halls of Justice; support in the revision of the Rules of Court, and most especially, the JSCC undertaking for local justice sector coordination through the seven Justice Zones.
In the pipeline for GOJUST II is the study on the National Justice Information System (NJIS), an ICT based tool envisioned to facilitate the management and exchange of vital information across justice sector agencies in the discharge of their mandated functions. Also in the works is the “Justice Needs Survey” aimed at examining the justice needs of the Filipinos in general and some identified vulnerable groups, reviewing their justice seeking behavior, and making recommendations addressed to justice sector institutions and civil society.
Eldon said GOJUST II will continue ongoing consultations with the Justice Sector Coordinating Council (JSCC) which is composed of the Supreme Court, the Department of Justice, and the Department of the Interior and Local Government. Its other objectives are to enhance the capability for video conferencing and virtual consultations with Public Attorney’s Office (PAO) lawyers in the detention facilities, as well as to strengthen the barangays as a platform for dispute resolution and protection of the rights of women and children (DILG National Barangay Operations Office).
Chief Justice Gesmundo described as “timely and relevant” the GOJUST II’s NJIS Project especially at this time of the pandemic where efficiency and coordination among agencies have proven themselves effective in minimizing unnecessary contact and exposure. He added that the justice system needs a single unified repository of information. The Chief Justice also mentioned that he had worked closely with Eldon when, together with delegations from DOJ and DILG officials, they went on a study tour to Spain and France in 2019. During this study tour, the Philippine delegation had the opportunity to learn the coordination mechanisms within the justice sector agencies in Spain and observe best-practices which, in turn, could be possibly adopted in the Philippines.
Also in attendance are GOJUST II Technical Assistance Team (British Council) Atty. Hector D. Soliman, Senior Adviser on Access to Justice; Atty. Carolyn Mercado, Senior Advisor on Linking Evidence with Policy Making; Atty. Ingrid Rosalie L. Gorre, Senior Advisor on Institutional Strengthening; Ms. Tina Abella, Programme Officer; as well as UNOPS Philippines’ Communications Officer, Mario Villamor.
During last week’s meeting with Ambassador Veron, Chief Justice Gesmundo had announced that the SC En Banc approved the appointment of Atty. Laura C.H. Del Rosario as Programme Director for GOJUST II, who is tasked with coordinating the Annual Work Plan. Atty. Del Rosario is the Supreme Court’s Judicial Reform Program Administrator.