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The Philippine Supreme Court Eyes Artificial Intelligence to Expedite Cases

Image credits: pna.gov.ph

The Philippine Supreme Court (SC) has started exploring the use of Artificial Intelligence (AI) to improve the operations in the judiciary, particularly in the areas of unclogging court dockets and expediting resolution of cases. The move holds a lot of promise as the country’s justice system has been criticised as one of the slowest in the world. Chief Justice Alexander G. Gesmundo made the announcement during a recent virtual meeting with the Joint Foreign Chambers of the Philippines.

The Court aims to capitalise Artificial Intelligence to improve court operations, such as the use of technology in preparing transcripts of stenographic notes and in digitalising judgments rendered.

– Alexander G. Gesmundo, Chief Justice , Supreme Court

AI’s ability to crunch data at superhuman speeds is well established. At its core, it is defined as intelligence demonstrated by machines, as opposed to the natural intelligence displayed by humans. In this sense, technology simulates human thinking and behaviour.

Indeed, using AI to hasten court cases can be a logical move. AI’s learning ability has been used extensively to recognise data trends and fluctuations related to those trends. Already, AI robots make advanced web search possible at dizzying speed.

Gesmundo presented AI as a solution as he discussed the court’s plans to expedite cases with JFC representatives. He expounded the court’s plans to bring justice faster to the people citing:

  • The Case Decongestion Program in April last year
  • The issuance of a resolution approving several amendments to the Internal Rules of the Supreme Court specifically meant to address docket congestion concerns

Moreover, the Chief Justice discussed “Justice Real Time: A Strategic Plan for Judiciary Innovations 2022-2026.” The policy document is groundbreaking as it aims to describe and lay down the clear guiding principles, definite work plan and portfolio of projects, and reasonable target outcomes that will support the comprehensive and integrated reform initiatives in the Philippine Judiciary for the period of 2022 to 2026.

Even before COVID-19, the country’s justice system was viewed as largely inadequate. In 2017, the Philippines had 2,200 courts, equivalent to just one court for every 50,000 people, figures submitted to the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) revealed. That means one prosecutor handled an average of 166 cases and disposed of 145 cases that year, according to the National Prosecution Service. At the Public Attorney’s Office, which serves indigent litigants, each lawyer handled 465 cases in 2018.

The role of technology in expediting court cases heightened at the height of the pandemic. When lockdowns started, the Philippine justice system became more stressed and in the process, drifted farther away from the reach of ordinary citizens. A digital transformation of the system should mean faster access to services and better chances of early resolution of cases.

Manila recognises technology’s role. Indeed, timely digital adoption is needed not just in the administration of justice but for the country as a whole. And that means a committed drive to bring the latest of what technology can offer to the equation.

And the Philippine government is bent on putting all the pieces together to get things going, one step at a time. As reported on OpenGov Asia, Manila is encouraging the private sector to focus its attention on the latest advancements in technology. It does this by providing the right tax incentives and tax holidays, amongst a host of measures meant to move the country forward.

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