From Plan to Reality: Innovating the Philippine Court System
September 28, 2023
“I ask that you place your faith in the Supreme Court and support the Strategic Plan for Judicial Innovations 2022-2027. Beyond being a mere wish list or a dream, it is a commitment, and we will spare no effort to make it a reality. By improving our efficiency, continuing to innovate, and taking these measures to ensure accessibility for all, the Judiciary will better realize its duty of dispensing justice and safeguarding human and constitutional rights.”
Thus, stressed Supreme Court Associate Justice Maria Filomena D. Singh as she addressed government security officials, business leaders, and other delegates on behalf of Chief Justice Alexander G. Gesmundo at PROTECT 2023 conference series at New World Makati Hotel in Makati City today.
In a message delivered on his behalf by Justice Singh, Chief Justice Gesmundo looked back at the issues he faced when he took the helm of the Judiciary in April 2021. The Court pushed for the use of technology to keep the wheels of justice on turning amid the strictest lockdowns, while also ensuring the safety of court employees and all court users. The courts encouraged the conduct of court proceedings through videoconferencing.
The Chief Justice shared that in October 2022, the Supreme Court launched the Strategic Plan for Judicial Innovations 2022-2027 or SPJI, the blueprint for action that demonstrates the Court’s firm resolve to perform and deliver meaningful results on the Judiciary’s fundamental function – to secure responsive and real-time justice.
Consistent with the conference theme Doing Business Amidst New Threats, the Chief Justice revealed that the Court is exploring further the limitless potential of technology to bolster efficiency, access to justice, accountability, and transparency of the courts, whilst being cognizant of the necessary safeguards on data security and confidentiality through the SPJI.
With the thrust of a technology-driven judiciary, Chief Justice Gesmundo shared the accomplishments and plans of the Court under the SPJI in ensuring the Judiciary’s responsiveness in the lives of the people they serve and its constant improvement of judiciary services.
Among those mentioned were the following: the shift to digital platforms such as the eCourt version 2.0 and the Judiciary e-Payment Solution or JePS; the use of Artificial Intelligence (AI) for legal research tools, AI-enabled voice-to-text transcription applications to support court stenographers, and the use of AI to track deadlines for both court and administrative processes; the operationalization of the Office of the Judiciary Marshals; and the revision of the Shari’ah Rules of Procedure and the release of a Handbook for regular court judges on the basic principles of Shari’ah Jurisdiction and law.
The Chief Justice also underscored the improvement of people’s access to legal processes: “The SPJI endeavors to form judicial proceedings that are free from discrimination of any form and that promote respect, sensitivity, and inclusivity across distinct genders, identities, roles, needs, and vulnerabilities.” And soon, in partnership with law schools and the Integrated Bar of the Philippines, a National Directory of Free Legal Aid providers will be coming out.
He concluded his message with his hopes “that the SPJI will allow Filipinos from all sectors and all walks of life to enjoy the benefits of an effective judicial system. This is the Court’s contribution to the country’s future, and to ensuring the rule of law.”
The two-day conference is organized by Leverage International (Consultants) Inc. and will conclude on September 29, 2023. The PROTECT series of conferences on “Doing Business Amidst New Threats” was launched in 2005. (Courtesy of the Supreme Court Public Information Office)