Friday, December 16, 2016

A Conversation with Philippines Chief Justice Maria Lourdes Sereno - The Asia Foundation

See - A Conversation with Philippine Chief Justice Maria Lourdes Sereno - The Asia Foundation

“A Conversation with Philippine Chief Justice Maria Lourdes Sereno
The Asia Foundation
December 14, 2016

“x x x.

You have been a longstanding champion on access to justice issues in the Philippines. What do you see as the biggest challenges facing the justice sector today?

In the Philippines, there are only 2,000 courts nationwide that serve a population of a hundred million. If you compare this ratio with developed countries, it’s clear we have an undermanned justice sector.

One of the biggest challenges surrounding access to justice is the high cost of transportation entailed in physically getting to a courtroom. The cost of a lawyer is also often prohibitive—which is the same challenge that every poor person faces in any society. Today, there are not enough lawyers or paralegals helping the poorest sectors of society in the Philippines, and it is quite unfortunate that we don’t see a proportionate increase in legal assistance vis-à-vis the increase of the population. So even though we are trying to keep pace with the problem of access to justice, we need the coordination of the Executive Department, through the Department of Justice, to help us, because the provision of legal aid is principally a province of the public attorney’s office. They are also so terribly undermanned, so the judiciary is trying to help in every way it can. I’m trying to push the law schools and the Integrated Bar of the Philippines to provide more legal interns to assist with legal aid services.

And what areas of progress have you seen?

The Supreme Court’s latest push to expand the coverage of small claims cases has provided an enormous opportunity. The lower classes of society are benefitting from the speedy disposition of cases involving money claims up to $4,000 (200,000 PhP). Turnaround is fast, and it costs nearly nothing for a litigant to press his or her claim. For many people that means a lot: instead of allocating a substantial amount of the claim for costs, you can basically secure a judgment that may be immediately executed, with the amount intact, within a day or a week at most.

X x x.”

See -