Chief Justice Gesmundo Calls for Unity, Shared Responsibility

March 9, 2022

Chief Justice Alexander G. Gesmundo on Tuesday, March 8, 2022, underscored the need for unity and continued support to the government as the battle against the pandemic is not yet over.

Speaking before the Philippine Women Judges Association (PWJA)’s 27th Annual Convention-Seminar dubbed Livin’ La Vida Corona!, Chief Justice Gesmundo reflected on the lessons learned during the pandemic experience and stressed the need for everyone to unite, realize  our shared responsibility with and support the government, more than ever.

“As government struggles to find a solution to the COVID-19 crisis, there is no better time for us to unite and support our government than now. Throughout the pandemic, the government faced the difficulty of striking the right balance between duty and safety, public health and the economy, and collective rights and individual freedoms. While we must respect one’s freedom of choice, we cannot just ignore too the collective rights of the majority especially when public health is concerned. An obstinate minority may weaken our efforts to end the crisis soonest. Indeed, for a crisis as big as the one we are experiencing, there can be no better solution than for all of us to unite. No matter what our religious beliefs and political persuasions are, no matter what language we speak or region we come from, we are all Filipinos, and surviving this pandemic requires all of us to transcend our own biases and think of the greater good, of the community, and of our country,” Chief Justice Gesmundo said.

Citing the event’s positive and optimistic theme, the Chief Justice emphasized the need for people to cope and adapt. “We cannot allow the pandemic to put our lives on hold. We cannot merely wait for the pandemic to be over and accept whatever comes. We have to learn to be proactive and creative; we must be bold and innovative. Two years into the pandemic, we must have already learned to live with the virus.”

Likewise, the Chief Justice stressed the need for “a sense of oneness, a sense of nationhood, a sense of common good, for in the difficulties that lie ahead, we cannot triumph individually, we can only prevail as a whole, as one nation dedicated towards a common goal, the public good.” He urged everyone to support the government by extending whatever help we can to our countrymen. “We cannot rely on government alone to respond to this crisis. We must also help and do our part,” said the Chief Justice as he acknowledged the PWJA for securing healthcare services even to non-members – to court personnel, male judges, and their respective dependents, as well as authorizing the release of emergency funds to extend financial assistance to the bereaved family of PWJA members.

He also mentioned the PWJA’s Shekinah Home Potable Water Project where its members extended financial assistance to Shekinah Home of Dingras, Ilocos Norte, a shelter for rescued and/or neglected children, for the construction of an additional potable water source. Likewise, he acknowledged the relief efforts initiated by PWJA President, Senior Associate Justice Estela M. Perlas-Bernabe to extend assistance to judges, court employees, and other typhoon victims in the Visayas and Mindanao regions affected by Typhoon Odette.

The Chief Justice also highlighted the role of technology as the Judiciary forges its way forward during this crisis. “To keep the wheels of justice from grinding to a halt and mindful of the health and safety of all, we immediately allowed our courts to receive pleadings by electronic mail and to conduct hearings via fully-remote videoconferencing. Undeniably, technological advances are shaping the way we work and respond to challenges. And, as I have mentioned several times before, we are in the process of developing and establishing an ICT Infrastructure for the Philippine Judiciary, with plans to set up an E-Court system to enhance court workflow processes and increase virtual access to the courts. We also intend to utilize Artificial Intelligence for court operations to promote efficiency in our processes,” Chief Gesmundo said.

Among the judicial reforms already in place in our courts is the Philippine Judiciary 365, a modern workplace collaboration solution which provides courts with the facility to electronically receive pleadings and other court submissions securely; to hear and decide cases via videoconferencing; to allow parties to present their arguments and evidence remotely and/or via shared document libraries; to generate transcripts of stenographic notes of videoconferencing hearings in real time; to quickly organize court calendars; and to efficiently coordinate among court staff and manage their tasks and assignments, among other operations. Also present during the PWJA event were PWJA Executive Vice President, Supreme Court Associate Justice Amy C. Lazaro-Javier; Court Administrator Raul B. Villanueva; Court of Appeals Justice Maria Filomena D. Singh; Sandiganbayan Justice Ma. Theresa Dolores C. Gomez-Estoesta; PWJA Vice Presidents, Justice Marilyn Payoyo-Villordon (Court of Appeals), Justice Ma. Theresa M. Arcega (Sandiganbayan), Justice Ma. Belen Ringpis-Liban (Court of Tax Appeals), Judge Josefina Eco-Siscar (Regional Trial Courts), Judge Barbara Aleli H. Briones (Family Courts), Judge Ma. Victoria Q. Padilla-Awid (Metropolitan Trial Courts and Municipal Trial Courts in Cities), Judge Ma. Belinda Crisostomo-Rama (Municipal Circuit Trial Court and Municipal Trial Courts), PWJA Public Relations Officer, Judge Rebecca Guillen-Ubana; and Supreme Court Management Information System Office Chief, Atty. Jed Sherwin Uy. ###