The Commission on Human Rights (CHR) has lauded the Supreme Court’s (SC) decision that allowed the use of video conferencing in legal aid cases to enhance access to justice by indigent litigants.
The SC’s decision to allow video conference hearings in legal aid cases was pleaded by the Integrated Bar of the Philippines (IBP).
The CHR said video conferencing is in line with the SC’s five-year Strategic Plan for Judicial Innovations (SPJI) that was launched last year.
It said that SPJI boosts the judiciary’s efficiency, innovation, and accessibility by improving its online platforms, modernizing court processes, and strengthening legal aid initiatives for the marginalized, among others.
Chief Justice Alexander G. Gesmundo had said that SPJI is founded on four guiding principles, namely: “The Filipino people deserve a judiciary possessed of competence, integrity, probity, and independence; the Judiciary must provide equal access to justice real time; public confidence in the Judiciary is dependent on transparency and accountability; and technology must be the platform on which the basic court systems and processes run.”
During the inauguration of the IBP’s New Legal Aid Center at the Quezon City Justice Hall, SC Senior Justice Marvic M.V.F. Leonen said: “Justice and our fight for what is lawful ultimately reflects our ideals. It must be impartial to our liberties and freedoms. It must be fair and hold fairly those who are accountable. It must treat all of us as equal. Accessibility to justice, in this view, is understood as a fundamental pillar for any democracy.”
The CHR lauded the SC’s decision for promoting everyone’s rights to legal counsel and to the speedy and impartial disposition of cases, regardless of people’s socioeconomic status.
“We acknowledge that this digital innovation will help alleviate the scheduling and budget concerns of volunteer lawyers and free legal aid initiatives offered