The Philippine judiciary is beset with major constraints in resources from dispersed and fragmented court facilities, inadequate staff and supplies, and archaic rules and laws that weaken the capacity of local courts to respond to increasing public needs. As a direct consequence, courts are challenged by large case backlogs and caseloads. Putting performance management at the forefront of judicial reform measures, the Supreme Court, in partnership with the ABA Rule of Law Initiative (ABA ROLI) and the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID), spearheaded the establishment of a monitoring and evaluation system for all first level trial courts in the country.
On September 6, Supreme Court Chief Justice Renato Corona inaugurated the Small Claims Court Monitoring System (SC2MS) at a Valenzuela City ceremony. About 40 people, including representatives of the judiciary, ABA ROLI and USAID, attended the event. The system allows more than 1,300 trial courts in the country to connect via broadband wireless connection and to generate and send monthly electronic reports to the Supreme Court. The SC2MS software enables automatic display of caseload and disposition, hearing schedules, case-history audit logs and programmed custom reports, making real-time case tracking possible. The embedded audit trail allows court officials to monitor data entered into the system by each court employee, maintaining the security and integrity of the information.
Associate Justice Teresita J. Leonardo-De Castro, chairperson of the Committee on Computerization and Library of the Supreme Court, said that the system was a milestone in the efforts of the judiciary to simplify, expedite and modernize its procedures. Gerry Porta, USAID senior program manager, said that the system will help demonstrate improvements and identify gaps—opportunities for further procedural enhancements.
The system will improve data systems across localities and regions by enabling the judiciary to integrate its processes and to shift from manual to faster electronic processes. It streamlines the reporting process, dramatically reduces errors and increases the judiciary’s accountability. To provide support to remotely located court personnel, the Supreme Court has set up a help desk that identifies user needs and resolves issues.
To learn more about our work in the Philippines, contact the ABA Rule of Law Initiative at [email protected].