by: Maria Josefina G. San Juan-Torres
Poverty is a grim reality that confronts the present Philippine landscape.
Statistics gathered by the National Statistical Coordination Board
reveal that in 2003, 30.4% of Filipinos live below the poverty
line. In a survey conducted by the Social Weather Station (SWS ) in
June 2006, six (6) out of ten (10) Filipino consider themselves
To address this anathema through the eyes of the Judiciary, and
realizing the need to provide equal access to justice at the
grassroots, the Supreme Court through its Action Program for
Judicial Reform (APJR), identified as a key strategy for good
governance, the introduction of information campaigns to the public
on the right of access by the poor to fair and quality justice.
Recognizing the great impact of mass media as an effective weapon for reform
advocacy, the Supreme Court created the Task Force on Information
Wallsheets chaired by Court of Appeals Associate Justice Noel G.
Tijam, who conceptualized the dissemination of information wallsheets
and brochures that would be distributed to all parts of the country.
The wallsheets and brochures contain basic procedures on the filing
of civil and criminal action in Philippine courts, understandable in
plain language and matched with illustrative diagrams. An innovative
feature of this information publication is that it is presented from
the litigant’s point of view – practical and visual --
replete of legalese jargons – simply put, user friendly.
Indeed, a layman’s roadmap of the justice system.
The Supreme Court Committee on Computerization and Library, chaired by
Supreme Court Associate Justice Antonio T. Carpio, developed new
features in the existing Judicial Reform Network (JRN21) website .
The website is accessible to the public providing highlights of
judicial events and the Judiciary’s priorities for action.
In a milestone effort of the Judiciary to be counted in the global
movement against poverty by providing equal access to justice by the
poor, responsible parties of the APJR network recently gathered last
April 3, 2007 and witnessed the formal launching of the Information
Wallsheets and Brochures on the Stages of Civil and Criminal Actions
and the re-launching of the enhanced APJRN and JRN21 Websites.
As a frontline institution, the Judiciary has undoubtedly proven,
through these information literature and the enhanced JRN21
websites, that it has risen to the challenge of responsive judicial
governance and social justice, a landmark of the Court’s best
practices. Still, the Judiciary continues to go that extra mile in
mainstreaming pro-poor reform initiatives in the Philippine justice