The study tour gave the delegation comparative perspectives on employing court automation and improved case management to enhance judicial efficiency and accountability. It also allowed delegation members to strengthen ties with their American counterparts. The delegation visited the Supreme Court of the United States, the Federal Judicial Center, the National Center for State Courts, the Center for Legal and Court Technology, the Administrative Office of the U.S. Courts, the U.S. Bankruptcy Court and the Maryland Electronic Courts Project and met with Justice Samuel Alito and Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg, as well as with representatives from the U.S. Department of State, the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) and the American Bar Association’s (ABA’s) Judicial Division.
Chief Justice Sereno said that the study tour was a resounding success that exceeded all expectations and affirmed the trajectory of the reforms that the Philippine Supreme Court and ABA ROLI are implementing in the Philippines. She added that the study tour opened up new possibilities for specific measures, practices and technologies that could be integrated into existing initiatives.
Justice Maria Filomena Singh of the Philippine Court of Appeals—who in 2012 piloted the first iteration of ABA ROLI’s e-Court program as a Quezon City Regional Trial Court judge—agreed. She said that the trip “was both enlightening … and a validation of [the Philippines’] own e-Court reform initiatives.” Singh said that the perspectives the study tour afforded the delegation would aid in generating a new set of performance measures for trial courts.
On May 19, ABA ROLI held a reception at the Library of Congress in honor of the Philippine delegation. The reception was attended by about 50 people, including ABA President William Hubbard, ABA ROLI Director Elizabeth Andersen, members of the U.S. judiciary, representatives from U.S. government agencies and diplomats from member countries of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations. During her keynote address, Chief Justice Sereno highlighted concrete gains the Philippine judiciary has made over the years, including reduced case processing time and docket decongestion. “The numbers”, she said, “prove that the Philippines’ judicial reform efforts—supported by ABA ROLI, USAID, The Asia Foundation [and others]—represent an unmitigated success.” She also thanked the international community for its continued commitment and support.
The study tour is part of ABA ROLI’s USAID-supported program to strengthen the Philippine judiciary and to improve court effectiveness. You can watch Chief Justice Sereno’s keynote address below.