Supreme Court’s SPJI: Reminiscing the past


In unveiling the Supreme Court’s new reform program titled “Strategic Plan for Judicial Innovations 2022-2027” (SPJI), CJ Alexander G. Gesmundo correctly, IMHO, began by recalling the reforms started by CJ Hilario G. Davide Jr. Following his lead, I will take up today these past initiatives, and next Monday, the present and future reform plans.

YES, THE “ACTION PROGRAM FOR JUDICIAL REFORM” (APJR) of CJ Davide was lauded by the incumbent chief as “the first structured plan for judicial reform created way back in 2001 … a truly impressive plan from which (were) drawn some of (the) present activities in the SPJI … and the idea of adopting technology for court functions, as well as the need for a wider reach for public information and collaboration with civil society.”

In my 536-page book, “Judicial Renaissance” (Supreme Court Press, Nov. 2006) which I dedicated to CJ Davide, I humbly traced his modest roots from the remote barangay of Colawin in Argao, Cebu, to his outstanding career as a lawyer, lawmaker, constitution framer, elections chairman, associate justice, and finally, chief justice. I also tracked the support APJR got from all aid agencies (like the World Bank, Asian Development Bank, USAID, Canadian International Development Agency, Japan International Cooperation Agency, etc.). The World Bank was so impressed that it included the APJR in its website as a model for developing countries to emulate to deserve the Bank’s support.

The book discussed lengthily the APJR’s vision of a “judiciary that is independent, effective and efficient, and worthy of public trust and confidence; and a legal profession that provides quality, ethical, accessible and cost-effective legal service…” Of course, it also reported on its successful implementation. Copies of this book are available in the Supreme Court Library. To show its appreciation of the APJR, the Court, prior to CJ Davide’s retirement on Dec. 20, 2005, held the International Conference and Showcase on Judicial Reforms on Nov. 28-30, 2005.

I THANK CJ GESMUNDO FOR CREDITING ME WITH EGALITARIAN JUSTICE by “institutionalizing the perspective of law and economics as an essential element of … his Liberty and Prosperity Programs…” (Itals in original)

To give a wider view of my perspective, may I, in all modesty, lay out my statement of vision, values, and goals when I assumed office as CJ:

“I vow to lead a judiciary characterized by four Ins: integrity, independence, industry and intelligence—one that is morally courageous to resist influence, interference, indifference, and insolence. I envision a judiciary that is impervious to the plague of “ships”: kinship, relationship, friendship, and fellowship.

“I pledge to continue and strengthen the Supreme Court’s ongoing Action Program for Judicial Reform (APJR), with special focus on what I call the four ACID problems that corrode justice in our country: (1) limited access to justice by the poor, (2) corruption, (3) incompetence, and (4) delay in the delivery of quality justice.

“I look for competent and ethical lawyers who are responsible, dependable, and morally upright; and who courageously uphold truth and justice above everything else.

“I shall grant maximum financial and fringe benefits to our 26,000 employees nationwide from whom, in turn, I ask for three things: (1) dedication to duty, (2) honesty in every way, and (3) full loyalty to the judiciary, or DHL.

“All the foregoing visions and objectives must lead to the two loftier goals of safeguarding the liberty and nurturing the prosperity of our people under the rule of law.”

To cap my incumbency, the Court sponsored the Global Forum on Liberty and Prosperity on Oct. 18-20, 2006. After I retired, the Foundation for Liberty and Prosperity (FLP) was formed to continue spreading my humble philosophy via professional chairs, legal scholarships, dissertation writing contests, “Esmel” fellowships, etc. FLP’s ultimate projects are (1) to build the Center for Liberty and Prosperity where an interactive Museum will be housed in partnership with the Supreme Court, and (2) to put up the “Entrepreneurship Fund” to help our people help themselves through entrepreneurship.

NEXT, CJ GESMUNDO HAILED CJ REYNATO S. PUNO as the “father of the great writs of freedom—the Writ of Amparo, Writ of Habeas Data, and Writ of Kalikasan.” Then, he cited the amendments to the Rules of Court initiated by CJ Renato C. Corona (on the Quezon City Courts and on the precursor of the Judicial Affidavit Rule); CJ Teresita Leonardo de Castro (Family Courts and Children in Conflict with the Law); CJ Lucas P. Bersamin (Revised Law Student Practice, Mandatory Clinical Legal Education, 2019 Amendments to the Rules of Civil Procedure, and Rules on Evidence); and Diosdado M. Peralta (on Continuous Trial, “among others”). Sorry, no mention of Maria Lourdes P. A. Sereno’s “Four Pillars.”

Having retired on Dec. 7, 2006, I do not have the details of these remedial reforms undertaken after my term, but the mains are imbedded in our Rules of Court. For more info, please write the [email protected]

Comments to [email protected]

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