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PH, Australia renew pact on reforms for judicial programs

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The Philippines and Australia have renewed their partnership for the implementation of judicial reforms that would benefit the marginalized, particularly the most vulnerable like children.

Australian Ambassador to the Philippines Hae Kyong Yu and Chief Justice Alexander G. Gesmundo reiterated their commitment during the former’s visit to the Supreme Court (SC) last Thursday, Jan. 19, the SC public information office (PIO) said in a press briefer.

Chief Justice Gesmudo expressed the gratitude of the judiciary for Australia’s support to projects like the organizational assessment and process mapping of the Judicial Integrity Board, the Ethics Caravan of the Sub-Committee for the Revision of the Code of Professional Responsibility; and the business process mapping and reengineering, caseload and case carrying capacity analyses in the SC and Sandiganbayan.

Gesmundo also thanked Australia for supporting the Regional Consultations on Legal Education and the National Legal Aid Summit, in partnership with The Asia Foundation (TAF).

He said the other initiatives supported by the Australian government are in the areas of human trafficking and child online exploitation through the Association of Southeast Asian Nations-Australia Counter Trafficking Program and the SaferKidsPH Consortium.

In response, Yu declared that the Australian government is indeed committed to fighting terrorism, human trafficking and child online exploitation and abuse.

“The Australian government is always committed to working with you to counter terrorism and child online sexual exploitation. These areas are very important to us and I think we have achieved excellent results…Of course, none of this is possible without a fully functioning Judiciary,” Ambassador Yu said.

Ambassador Yu also commended the Philippine Judiciary “for always striving for innovation and improvement.”

She particularly lauded the SC’s use of technology and digital platforms to further improve the administration of justice.

She noted that the Australian courts could learn from the Philippine judiciary’s programs and projects “particularly access to courts in rural and remote areas.”

The Ambassador referred to the Enhanced Justice on Wheels program of the SC where mobile courts are brought to far-flung areas to speed up the resolution of cases.

She said the program “is a great concept, given that Australia is also a big country with many remote areas.”

Chief Justice Gesmundo also shared to the Australian officials that the SC’s committee is in the process of drafting the Rules on anti-terrorism cases.

Philippine Judicial Academy (PhilJA) Vice-Chancellor Mariano C. Del Castillo also mentioned the ongoing Legal Framework Setting on Anti-Terrorism and Counter-Terrorism Financing Cases organized by the SCin partnership with the Embassy of Australia and the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime, currently being held at the PhilJA Training Center in Tagaytay City.

Associate Justice Jose Midas P. Marquez, on the other hand, discussed the SC’s Strategic Plan for Judicial Innovations 2022-2027 (SPJI).

Joining Chief Justice Gesmundo during the meeting, aside from Justice Marquez and Del Castillo, were Associate Justices Ramon Paul L. Hernando, Amy C. Lazaro-Javier, Henri Jean Paul B. Inting, Jhosep Y. Lopez,Japar B. Dimaampao, Marquez, and Antonio T. Kho, Jr. Court Administrator Raul B. Villanueva, Assistant Court Administrator and Chief of Public Information Office Atty. Brian Keith F. Hosaka, Deputy Clerk of Court and Judicial Reform Program Administrator Atty. Laura C.H. Del Rosario, and Deputy Clerk of Court and Chief Technology Officer Atty. Jed Sherwin G. Uy were also present.

Ambassador Yu was joined by Dr. Moya Collett, deputy head of Mission; Mr. Paul Harrington, acting counsellor (Development); Mr. Simon Hayter, first secretary (Political); Mr. Alexander O’ Hara, second secretary (Political); and Ms. Ria Go Tian, senior program officer (Development).

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