Chief Justice Alexander G. Gesmundo is set to propose to the magistrates of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) “the adoption of common principles and guidelines” on the conduct of hearings by videoconference (VCH) involving parties and witnesses in cases within the Region.
“As our economic interests, educational pursuits, scientific and technological advances, and even our public health and environmental concerns increasingly intersect beyond our physical borders, we will see an increase in cross-border transactions, interactions and, as expected, legal disputes,” Gesmundo said. said.
He addressed a message to his counterparts and participants at the 10th Meeting of the ASEAN Council of Chief Judges (CACJ) which is being held in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, until Saturday, November 5.
The 10th meeting of the CACJ includes 10 working sessions on topics related to the application of information technologies in the courts.
Gesmundo stressed that “in the interest of consistency, efficiency and mutual protection, therefore, a CACJ ASEAN protocol on the conduct of hearings by videoconference would be ideal.”
He said the Philippine court system “has successfully adopted the VCH modality for all of our courts, including the Supreme Court (SC).”
“Aptly dubbed ‘a child of necessity’, we have issued guidelines for VCH to ensure the uninterrupted and timely delivery of our forensic services despite the continued threat of the Covid-19 virus,” it said. he also stated.
He pointed out that “due to this high success rate, the Supreme Court is currently updating its guidelines on VCH to transition the use of the rule to a post-pandemic world, making it a permanent device and a option in the toolbox of every Filipino judge, especially in the best interests of child witnesses, for better protection of victims and prevention of re-victimization, for easier access to a lawyer and even to family for detained witnesses and parties; and, in general, for greater efficiency in terms of time and costs.
The use of VCH, which will be further strengthened in the Five-Year Strategic Plan for Judicial Innovations (SPJI) of the Supreme Court (SC), has resulted in the release of 132,916 persons deprived of their liberty (PDL) including 2,120 children in conflict with the law.
During his meeting with stakeholders in the Philippines justice system in Davao City on October 24, Associate Justice SC Midas P. Marquez said that as of October 13, 2022, 1,139,720 VCHs had been conducted by the courts in the nationwide with a pass rate of 89.27 per hundred.
VCH was pilot tested by the SC in 2019 and used at the start of the Covid-19 pandemic in March 2020 so as not to disrupt court operations nationwide.
Also in his message, Chief Justice Gesmundo affirmed the commitment of the Philippine Judiciary “to protect the rule of law, to guarantee the rights of our people and to honor our obligations to the greater community of nations”.
He stressed that “the Supreme Court of the Philippines stands in solidarity with our ASEAN neighbors in our common pursuit of the best possible future for our region.”
After two years of meeting virtually due to the Covid-19 pandemic, CACJ members and participants are finally meeting in person with the Malaysian judiciary as host.
Besides the Philippines and Malaysia, the other members of ASEAN are Brunei, Cambodia, Indonesia, Laos, Myanmar, Singapore, Thailand and Vietnam.
A press release issued by the CS Public Information Office (PIO) said that Chief Justice Gesmundo highlighted in his message the rules of procedure promulgated and the projects undertaken by the Supreme Court of the Philippines in 2022, namely : Amendments to Rule 140 of the Rules of Court , Rule on Facilitated Naturalization of Refugees and Stateless Persons, Rule on Expedited Proceedings in Trial Courts, Reports of Family Courts, Reports Commercial Court Case Law and the Rule on International Child Abduction Cases.
He said Gesmundo also discussed the recently launched Strategic Plan for Judicial Innovations 2022-2027 (SPJI) – the SC action plan for the next five years.
He also said that Gesmundo described the SPJI as “a documentation of the roadmap for our internal and external stakeholders in groundbreaking reform initiatives aimed at achieving three (3) goals: efficiency, innovation and access, to achieve the overall objective to provide responsive and real-time justice.
Additionally, he said Gesmundo highlighted “SC’s efforts to update and make relevant the Code of Professional Responsibility for Lawyers through revisions that include the addition of a chapter on the responsible use of social media, among others”.
In addition to Gesmundo, the Philippine delegation to CACJ Malaysia is comprised of Senior Associate Judge Marvic MVF Leonen, Philippine Representative to the Working Group (WG) on Case Management and Court Technology; Associate Judge Mario V. Lopez; Associate Justice Jhosep Y. Lopez, Representative of the Philippines to the ASEAN Judicial Portal Working Group;
Associate Justice Japar B. Dimaampao; Associate Justice Marquez, Philippines Representative to the ASEAN+ Meetings Working Group; Associate Justice Antonio T. Kho, Jr.; and Associate Justice Maria Filomena D. Singh, co-representative of the Philippines to the Working Group on Future Work on the CACJ.
Also part of the delegation are the Chancellor of the Judicial Academy of the Philippines, Rosmari D. Carandang, representative of the Philippines on the task force on judicial education and training; Tribunal Administrator Raul B. Villanueva, Philippines Alternate Representative to the ASEAN Civil Facilitation Working Group; Associate Judge at the Court of Appeals Angelene Mary W. Quimpo-Sale, Philippines Representative to the Working Group to the International Hague Network of Judges;
Deputy Court Registrar and Judicial Reform Program Administrator Laura CH del Rosario, Alternate Representative of the Philippines to the Task Force on ASEAN+ Meetings, Chair of the Permanent Secretariat of the Philippines for CACJ Affairs and Liaison Officer, CACJ Philippines; Assistant Registrar and Chief Technology Officer Atty. Jed Sherwin G. Uy, Alternate Representative of the Philippines to the Working Group on Case Management and Court Technology and Member of the Philippine Secretariat for CACJ Affairs; and other court prosecutors.
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