On August 19, 2016, a group of media personnel and representatives from the Philippine Association of Law School and the Public Information Office of the Supreme Court attended the training/ seminar on monitoring the judiciary entitled “Uncovering the Courts” held at Brother Andrew Gonzales Building De La Salle University. The activity is part of the 3-year project collaboration of Alternative Law Groups (ALG), Ateneo Human Rights Center (AHRC), Journalism for Nation Building Foundation (JNBF), Lawyers’ League for Liberty (Libertas), Philippine Alliance of Human Rights Advocates (PAHRA) and Transparency and Accountability Network (TAN) known as “Hustisiya Natin.” Hustisya Natin aims to enhance the integrity of the justice system by empowering citizens through civil society organizations.
As part of its task, the Journalism for Nation Building Foundation through the Leadership of Ms. Marites Dangilan- Vitug and with support from De La Salle University School of Law, conducted the aforesaid activity. This particular activity aims to increase the knowledge and awareness of some media personnel or journalist on the Philippine criminal justice system including the right to information and access to official records and documents. The activity also hopes to encourage journalist to cover stories on cases and decisions of the courts in a more accurate and comprehensive manner and to promote transparency and accountability among the judges and justices.
Among the resources speakers were Dean Jose Manuel Diokno of De Lasalle College of Law, Atty. Thedore Te, Supreme Court Spokesperson, Atty. Zenaida N. Elepano of the Legal Education Board and Dean Mel Sta. Maria of the FEU Institute of Law.
Dean Diokno has also cited in his presentation that delay, congestion and the “old boys” network in the judicial system are some factors that contribute to the ineffective and slow disposal of criminal cases in courts. Dean Sta. Maria on the other hand, repeatedly mentioned that journalist or the media should cover stories or cases to promote accountability and not impunity among judges and justices.
Finally, Atty. Marlon Manuel, the National Coordinator of the Alternative Law groups presented the key proposition to promote a transparent and efficient judicial system. First, is that good governance is brought about under a judicial system that enjoys a high level of public confidence and ensures access to justice especially to the disadvantaged. Second, is that effective administration of justice is made possible not only by those who deliver it but also by those who demand for it. Lastly, is that all stakeholders in the reform process should be involved in the formulation of goals and objectives of reform, implementation and monitoring and evaluation to exact transparency and accountability.
Similar training/ seminars shall be conducted under the project in selected areas in the Philippines.