In July, Gloria Steele, U.S. Agency for International Development’s (USAID’s) mission director in the Philippines, and Andrew Plitt, Asia director of its Strategy and Planning Office, made several visits to the Philippine Court of Appeals to observe the recently launched case-status inquiry system. During the visits, Presiding Justice Andres Reyes explained how the system, which allows the public to immediately view case status and actual court decisions, works. Accessible to the public through a kiosk in the court’s premises and through the court’s website, the system has helped increase the court’s transparency.
Bonifacio Florendo, a litigant in a labor case, said that the system has been very helpful to people, saving them time and money. “We don’t have to travel far, spend for travel and tread through the bad weather just to follow-up on the status of our cases and [to get] a copy of the decisions,” he said.
With thousands of new cases entering the Court of Appeals every year and a total caseload of more than 20,000, the court has previously had difficulty maintaining case inventories, tracking and locating cases and monitoring its own. Following consultations with different stakeholders and with USAID support, the ABA Rule of Law Initiative (ABA ROLI) cooperated with the court to develop the case management information system. For ease of tracking, cases are marked with barcodes as they are filed. Additionally, justices can access cases, along with information on their status, through a dashboard. This allows the justices to prioritize matters. Also, an 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.
“As a manager, I need to know the status of the cases at a glance,” said Reyes, “With the help of my dashboard, I am able to save time and effectively manage my staff to promptly process cases.” He thanked the U.S. government for the support that made the advancements possible. Steele said that USAID will continue to support the Court of Appeals as a partner for economic growth and sustainable development.
The system, which is continually being enhanced to increase efficiency and transparency, has already allowed the court to build a database of cases dating back to 1980 and to dispose of all cases filed before 2004.
ABA ROLI and USAID are also assisting the Court of Tax Appeals and Sandiganbayan—anti-graft court—to utilize and integrate automation systems. In the coming months, USAID will help the Court of Appeals and its regional offices in Cebu and Cagayan de Oro fully integrate their respective sites to enable complete inventory and case tracking of the entire court.
To learn more about our work in the Philippines, contact the ABA Rule of Law Initiative at [email protected].