“The coming five years will be a crucial phase in the history of our Judiciary,” said Chief Justice Alexander G. Gesmundo as he announced a Strategic Plan for 2021-2026 during the virtual launch of the Justice Sector Reform Programme: Governance in Justice (GOJUST II) on Thursday, November 25, 2021.
According to Chief Justice Gesmundo, the Plan, which he will propose to the Supreme Court En Banc, aims to re-mold and transform the courts into “consistently efficient and accountable havens for the disadvantaged, the wronged, the injured.”
The Plan is founded on four Guiding Principles: “(1) The Filipino people deserve a judiciary possessed of competence, integrity, probity, and independence. (2) The Judiciary must provide equal access to justice real time.
(3) Public confidence in the Judiciary is dependent on transparency and accountability. (4) Technology must be the platform on which the basic court systems and processes run.”
Based on these, the Chief Justice said there are four correlative target outcomes: “effective monitoring and evaluation of the performance of justices, judges, court officials, and personnel; equal access to justice real time; transparency and accountability in court systems and procedures; and the creation of an Information and Communication Technology (ICT) Infrastructure for the Judiciary.”
Chief Justice Gesmundo expressed his gratitude to the European Union (EU) for being “one of our most steadfast and committed partners in reform, not just for the Judiciary, but for the entire justice sector.” He also mentioned the key initiatives launched with GOJUST’s support.
The Chief Justice was joined online by Associate Justices Alfredo Benjamin S. Caguioa, Rosmari D. Carandang, Amy C. Lazaro-Javier, Henri Jean Paul B. Inting, Rodil V. Zalameda, Jhosep Y. Lopez, Japar B. Dimaampao, and Jose Midas P. Marquez; Court of Appeals and Sandiganbayan Justices; Philippine Judicial Academy Acting Chancellor Mariano C. Del Castillo; and Office of the Court Administrator officials.
Likewise present online were Justice Sector Coordinating Council (JSCC) principals Sec. Menardo I. Guevarra of the Department of Justice (DOJ) and Sec. Eduardo M. Año of the Department of the Interior and Local Government (DILG); EU Ambassador Luc Veron; GOJUST II Programme Manager Ms. Alicia Louro-Pena; GOJUST II Programme Steering Committee members DOJ Usec. Jon Paulo V. Salvahan and DILG Usec. Bernardo C. Florence, Jr.
GOJUST delegates from the British Council present were Mr. Christian Eldon, Team Leader-Senior Advisor for Justice Coordination; Mr. Matthew James Sheader, Senior Justice Advisor; Atty. Hector D. Soliman, Senior Adviser on Access to Justice; Atty. Ingrid Rosalie L. Gorre, Senior Advisor on Institutional Strengthening; and Atty. Carolyn Mercado, Senior Advisor on Linking Evidence with Policy Making. Other attendees were United Nations Office for Project Services (UNOPS) Country Manager Mr. Oscar Marenco and Senior Project Manager Ms. Joy Jakosalem Balane.
Deputy Clerk of Court and Judicial Reform Program Administrator/GOJUST II Programme Director Atty. Laura C.H. Del Rosario accompanied the Chief Justice at the SC Division Hearing Room, where the videoconferencing was set up.
GOJUST II is the second phase of the reform program funded by the EU aimed at improving access to justice, thereby contributing to inclusive and sustainable socio-economic development. The initiative, which will run for a period of four years until 2025 with an investment amounting to 19 million Euros (1.1 billion pesos), will support the reform projects of the JSCC composed of the SC, the DOJ, and the DILG. It will build on the work of the first phase of program, which was implemented from 2016 to 2020. A significant achievement of the GOJUST I was the implementation of the Justice Zone project in areas where there are coordinative reforms of local justice sector agencies. The Justice Zone project was launched in Quezon City, Cebu City, Davao City, Bacolod City, Naga City, Angeles City, and Calamba City. (Courtesy of the SC Public Information Office)