Chief Justice Alexander Gesmundo has urged all members of the legal profession to give their full support to the Supreme Court’s Strategic Plan for Judicial Innovations 2022-2027 (SPJI), which is the Judiciary’s blueprint for reform.
In his keynote message at the Regional Convention of Lawyers 2023 of the Integrated Bar of the Philippines (IBP) Southern Luzon Region held at The Bellevue Manila, Alabang, Muntinlupa City on Friday, the Chief Justice lauded the long-existing partnership between the Court and the IBP.
“You have cooperated in the continuous improvement of procedural rules and have fully supported our use of information technology. We hope you will remain a strong partner of the Court as we work to revolutionize our legal system through the SPJI,” Gesmundo stressed.
The top magistrate expressed his hopes that the members of the IBP will help the Court achieve its vision.
“I invite you to be the SPJI’s force multipliers, to help get our message across, to be active agents of reform. Share our vision with everyone in your association, with your peers in our profession, and with the clients and communities you serve, that they may identify with it and similarly take a stake in it,” he said.
Gesmundo shared with the Southern Luzon lawyers the key points of SPJI, which he said is a plan powered by an Innovation Agenda to review and assess the organizational structure and operations of the various offices of the Judiciary, and to develop and establish its information and communications technology infrastructure.
According to him, the SPJI is anchored on four guiding principles: timely and fair Justice, transparent and accountable justice, equal and inclusive justice, and technologically adaptive management.
He said such principles will propel the Judiciary towards achieving three outcomes: Efficiency, Innovation, and Access.
“We cannot overemphasize that the SPJI is necessary to reinvigorate and retool the judicial system. The Court must consistently be proactive and continuously innovate at this time of greater uncertainties and challenges,” he said.
The Chief Justice urged the IBP Southern Luzon Region to take the lead in supporting and contributing to the SPJI, especially since it is the largest among the IBP Regions in the country in terms of membership. Likewise, the IBP Southern Luzon Region includes the Chief Justice’s own home chapter of Laguna.
Gesmundo also reassured the convention participants that legal professionals will remain relevant despite the digitization of professional services due to the very nature of their work as officers of the court.
“The practice of law will remain important even if traditional tasks are automated,” he stressed, adding that “conflicts never cease in human society, and courts will always be needed to resolve them in the light of facts and laws.”
Meanwhile, Associate Justice Ramon Paul L. Hernando, Chairperson of the 2023 Bar Examinations, which will be held in September of this year, spoke on the digitization of the Bar Examinations and the importance of modernizing the same.
“We need to modernize the manner in which we admit those who wish to join our profession if we are to keep up with the best practices that other legal jurisdictions observe and implement in their respective areas,” said Hernando.
The SC justice also appealed to the members of the legal profession to give their utmost support in the Court’s judicial reform programs, particularly in the modernization of the Bar Examinations.
“Your Supreme Court, as the sole Constitutional body empowered to exercise the power of admission to the Bar, is doing all it can towards this shift to a modern and receptive legal profession. Your support in all these is most vital. We cannot possibly do it all alone, as this responsibility is our collective responsibility,” he said.
Joining the Chief Justice and Justice Hernando in the Convention were Associate Justice Jose Midas P. Marquez, Court Administrator Raul B. Villanueva, and Assistant Court Administrator and Supreme Court Public Information Office Chief Brian Keith F. Hosaka.
The IBP Southern Luzon Region is composed of the IBP Chapters of Aurora, Batangas, CALMANA [Caloocan-Malabon-Navotas], Cavite, Laguna, Makati, Marinduque, Occidental Mindoro, Oriental Mindoro, PPLM [Pasay-Parañaque-Las Piñas-Muntinlupa], Quezon, and Rizal.