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December 17, 2018

The Success of the JUSTICE Project, a Six Year Effort to Advance Justice in the Philippines

Around the world, courts are plagued with challenges such as congestion and a lack of access to resources. These structural issues impede citizens’ paths to justice and the development of business in a country. These challenges are present in the Philippines, where courts are in need of improved systems, enhanced technology, and legal education tools. These measures allow for increased efficiency, transparency, and accountability, and thus further inclusive economic growth. The Judicial Strengthening to Improve Court Effectiveness (JUSTICE) Project, a USAID-funded program led by the American Bar Association Rule of Law Initiative (ABA ROLI), in partnership with The Asia Foundation, sought to address these challenges. The project supported a decrease in the cost of business-related matters, as well as an increase in investor confidence in the Philippines. The JUSTICE Project made positive contributions to these goals, which led to the efficient and predictable adjudication of court cases.

Six years after the launch of the JUSTICE Project, over 100 representatives from implementing partners, the Philippines’ Supreme Court, other justice sector institutions, and the media gathered at a ceremony in Manila on December 5, 2018. The ceremony marked the achievements of the project, which is slated to conclude on December 31, 2018.

Key speakers at the event included: Alberto Mora, ABA Associate Executive Director of Global Programs; the Philippines’ Chief Justice Lucas P Bersamin (in his first public event after his appointment); Maram Talaat, USAID-Philippines acting Mission Director; Susan Cowley, ABA ROLI’s Philippines Country Director; and Sam Chittick, The Asia Foundation’s Philippines Country Director.

The speakers and the event highlighted a wide-range of initiatives from the JUSTICE Project. These initiatives included court-decongestion efforts, advancing the use of the Alternative Dispute Resolution (ADR), and strengthening the enforcement of financial rehabilitation laws. In addition, the Philippines has been off of the U.S. Trade Representative’s Intellectual Property Watch List since 2014, notably due to the Philippines increasing its protection of intellectual property rights. The project also developed the FIND JUSTICE PH mobile phone app and the eCourt, eRaffle, and eKiosks web based application systems.

The FIND JUSTICE PH mobile phone app takes advantage of the widespread use of smartphones and devices to connect people, when online and offline, with free and low-cost legal services. This mobile phone app also strengthens accountability because it provides the public with access to the courts, specifically information on the location of trial courts and court procedures, and to justice.

The eCourt represents a court automation system that bolsters the efficiency and accountability of PH courts, and the eRaffle is characterized as a case assignment system. The eKiosks provide the public with greater access to court and case information. These machines improve transparency and build the public’s trust in the courts.

The following JUSTICE Program partner institutions and stakeholders provided their support, collaboration, and stewardship in their efforts to enhance the business climate and increase judicial effectiveness in the Philippines. These institutions and stakeholders are USAID-Philippinesthe Supreme Court of the Republic of the Philippinesthe Philippine Judicial Academy of the Supreme Court of the Republic of the Philippinesthe Court of Appeals of the Republic of the PhilippinesSandiganbayan of the Republic of the PhilippinesCourt of Tax Appeals of the Republic of the Philippinesthe Republic of the Philippines Department of Justice, the Office of the Government Corporate Counsel of the Republic of the Philippines Department of Justicethe Public Attorney’s Office of the Republic of the Philippines Department of Justicethe Public-Private Partnership Center of the Republic of the Philippines, National Center for Mediationthe Integrated Bar of the Philippines, and the Office of the Court Administrator of the Supreme Court.

Program Spotlight Video

Learn more about the accomplishments of the JUSTICE Project in ABA ROLI’s spotlight video below.

Learn more about ABA ROLI’s work across Asia and the Pacific.