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Philippine Chief Justice Promotes a More Tech-enabled Future

business man hand holding a touch pad computer and 3d streaming images

Speaking during the hybrid oath-taking ceremony of the 2022-2023 national officers and regional directors of the Philippine Judges Association (PJA), Chief Justice Alexander Gesmundo emphasised the need for every justice in the country to be tech-savvy. Indeed, justice delayed is justice denied. But technology can hasten things up and play a central role in the efficient administration of justice. The PJA is the association of Regional Trial Court (RTC) judges that is duly recognised by the Supreme Court.

Tech Innovations in the Offing

An efficient justice system propelled by technology means greater order in the populace. To a large degree, that can certainly move the 110.8 million-strong Southeast Asian nation forward.

“You must have heard that the Supreme Court is focused on introducing innovations, how we conduct our business as a Court, through focusing on technology. So we hope that we can start putting things in proper places. We might say that the ambition of the Court is hard to reach but if we decide and we have the will, we can do it. Technology is very important…With your support, we will be able to achieve these innovations that we want to introduce,” the country’s Chief Justice said.

Moreover, Gesmundo reminded the judges of how critical their roles as front-liners of the judiciary is. “As front-liners, ideally and under normal circumstances, you are the first contact persons of the litigants, especially the first level courts. For that reason, we must assure that people transacting with the court involving cases must be satisfied with the way you are doing things at the trial court. Because if they are frustrated, it reflects on the entire Judiciary,” he added.

Digital is the Way to Go

Chief Justice Gesmundo is right on track. Thanks to the pandemic, online courts have steadily become the norm. As person-to-person interaction became taboo during the pandemic, the need to resolve cases without meeting physically is all the more pronounced. The question is how fast can a country’s justice system implement such a modern approach to distributing justice.

Although the Philippines is considered the “social media capital of the world” due to its massive adoption of the technology, in-person court hearings are still largely the norm in the Southeast Asian country.

In contrast, other countries have leapfrogged their justice system into the digital space. To boot, the Chinese judiciary system and its smart courts have shown everyone how a digital transformation can truly;y fast track legal cases to their rightful conclusion in the time of the pandemic.

In countries around the world, justice systems are also rapidly digitising. In Southwest Nigeria, searchable court record databases are being developed. In Estonia, chatbots help people find court resources. The Canadian province of British Columbia runs an online civil tribunal. Governments, private companies, and NGOs are all experimenting with technologies that improve justice system accessibility, transparency, function, and trust.

Over time, however, the Philippine government has shown how eager it is to adapt technology to better serve its countrymen. As reported on OpenGov Asia, a concrete example is the fielding of Very Small Aperture Terminals (VSATs) by the Department of Information and Communications Technology-Caraga (DICT-13) to provide connectivity and aid typhoon-ravaged towns in the country’s Mindanao region.

Truly, the technologically-advanced justice system that Chief Justice Gesmundo envisions is the way to go. Prepping his justices to adopt such a future is wise. It means victims of injustice and those at the losing end of crime will get the justice they truly deserve. And fast.

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