Through it’s five-year, USAID-funded Access to Justice and Support for the Rule of Law (ACCESS) Program, the American Bar Association Rule of Law Initiative (ABA ROLI) held it’s final training activity on March 3, 2023 at SMX Convention Center in Clark, Pampanga. Attended by more than 150 participants, the activity focused on “Philippines Standards and Perspectives: Capacity Building on Plea Bargaining for Lawyers and Policy Reform Advocates” and it followed a similar activity held September 3, 2021 on “Dialogue on Plea Bargaining in Drugs Cases: Establishing a Common Understanding of the Requirements and Possibilities in Plea Bargaining”.
This activity included lectures and presentations by Court Administrator Hon. Raul Villanueva of the Supreme Court of the Philippines, on “The Plea Bargaining Framework in Drugs Cases and DOJ Circular No. 27”; Atty. Hermilla Banayat, a litigator and human rights specialist with the Center for Youth Advocacy and Networking, on “Perspectives on Plea Bargaining on Drugs Cases in the Philippines: Strengths and Gaps”; and Atty. Donald Calvert, Resident Legal Advisor of the US Department of Justice- Overseas Prosecutorial Development, Assistance and Training, on “Plea Bargaining in the United States”. Court Administrator Villanueva’s lecture was pre-recorded, but he was represented by Deputy Court Administrator Hon. Leo Madrazo in the plenary discussions.
The attendees came from the judiciary, the Public Attorney’s Office, the Commission on Human Rights, litigators, legal aid lawyers, and leaders of various Central Luzon chapters of the Integrated Bar of the Philippines attended the training.