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A Report on the Proposed New Performance Management System for the Judiciary

by: Natividad C. Damil

Through the years, all government agencies, the Court of Appeals (CA) included, follow the standard performance rating system of the Civil Service Commission (CSC). This system (a long-standing bone of contention between a supervisor and his subordinate) is geared towards the employee's career development and the determination of his security of tenure. However, as in any system that has been in place for so long, the current system required to be overhauled because of its perceived weaknesses. To make it more relevant and effective, it has to be attuned to the growing concerns of the judiciary. Thus, to address this issue, the amplification of the Performance Evaluation System (PES) but now the new trend is Performance Management System (PMS) for court personnel who are not directly involved with the adjudicative function of the judiciary was conceived.

Under the aegis of the Action Program for Judicial Reforms (APJR) of the Supreme Court (SC), the development of a new Performance Evaluation System, solely for the judiciary, was set in motion as early as September 2006.

The SC spearheaded the project with the assistance of the Philippine Australian Aid Program (AusAID) through the Philippine Australian Human Resource Development Facility (PAHRDF) and commissioned the Integrative Learning International (Phils.), Inc. to provide technical assistance in coordination with the Office of the Administrative Services (OAS) and the Program Management Office (PMO) of the SC.

The launch of the project was very opportune because on 18 April 2007 (or eight months from its proposal) the CSC issued Memorandum Circular No. 07, s. 2007. In the said Circular, the CSC announced the installation of a Performance Management System (PMS) in the Civil Service. Thus, in effect, recognized the necessity to upgrade and develop a new PMS that will be in consonance with the agency's vision, mission and strategic goals.

The PAHRDF-sponsored short-term training course, entitled Development of a Performance Evaluation System for the Judiciary, (duly approved by the Honorable Chief Justice Reynato S. Puno) is aimed at developing a PES that will suitably measure the performance of judiciary personnel and obtaining an accurate and judicious rating for them. This course was supposed to have been completed in three (3) months from February 12 – April 26, 2007. However, on account of the intricacies of the issues and concerns raised at the sessions held for the purpose, the participants requested for an extension of the training course up to 31 May 2007 which request was subsequently granted by the Chief Justice.

The training course was divided into three (3) Components. The first Component was held at the Days Hotel in Tagaytay City, on February 12 – 23, 2007 with fifteen (15) participants from the Supreme Court, the Court of Appeals, the Sandiganbayan, the Court of Tax Appeals and the Lower Courts. This training phase of the Course generated a kind of fellowship and camaraderie among us participants that cannot be quantified. The sharing of thoughts was not the usual perfunctory exchange of ideas. In short, the evaluation process took on a human face. Because of these, we came out of Component I better equipped to draft a viable proposal for performance appraisal.

Component 2 covered the coaching activity on March 5 – May 10, 2007 at the SC and CA workplaces. Selected officials and employees of the CA together with their representatives from the other participating offices, were requested to take part in the pilot-testing on 11 April 2007 of the proposed Performance Rating forms. This activity was aimed at testing the acceptability and viability of the new forms.

The final Component that consisted of the presentation of the draft of the Performance Management System for Court Personnel (PMS-COUPER) to the Justices took place on 28 May 2007 at the Hyatt Hotel, Pedro Gil, Manila with all the participants, coordinators, facilitators and invited guests in attendance. The Supreme Court sent two of its most senior Justices, namely, Honorable Justice Leonardo Quisumbing and Honorable Madam Justice Ma. Alicia Austria-Martinez to represent the Chief Justice. The CA's Presiding Justice Ruben T. Reyes who, unfortunately, could not make it (due to his tight schedule) was ably represented by the Honorable Justice Mariano C. del Castillo at the turn-over ceremonies. The proposed draft will be submitted to the SC en banc for approval in consultation with the CSC.

An overlapping problem with the Continuous Improvement of Performance and Accomplishment Gauge (CIPAG) of the Lower Courts under OCA Circular No. 102-2006, cropped up in the course of the training sessions. This was referred to the Honorable Court Administrator Christopher O. Lock, who promptly resolved it. Hon. Lock declared that the status quo be maintained until such time that new PMS-COUPER gets implemented after the approval from the proper authorities had been secured.

As envisioned by the formulators of this enhanced and revised PMS-COUPER for the judiciary, its long-term effect is the efficient and speedy delivery of justice in the country.

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