A School Par Exellence for Judges

Address delivered by Chief Justice Artemio V. Panganiban during the unveiling of the foundation stone marker of the Philippine Judicial Academy (PhilJA) Development Center in Tagaytay City, on November 30, 2006.

Good morning! I am extremely delighted to be here on this beautiful and momentous November morning for the unveiling and signing of the foundation stone marker for the Philippine Judicial Academy (PhilJA) Development Center. Today is also an occasion for the gathering of friends of the Center. It brings together the persons who have been instrumental in bringing about, furthering and realizing our dream of building it. I share everyone’s joy over the prospect that soon, very soon; and at last, we would, finally behold the PhilJA Development Center. Sabi nga po nila, pag may tiyaga, may nilaga.

One Long but Fruitful Journey

The long and tortuous journey to build the PhilJA Center in Tagaytay is indeed a chronicle of faith. As you have heard from our previous distinguished speakers, the journey started on July 19, 1995, when at the instance of then Presidential Legal Counsel (now Supreme Court Justice) Antonio T. Carpio, President Fidel V. Ramos turned over the present 3.3-hectare facility to the Supreme Court.

I remember having been here more than seven years ago, on November 23, 1998, for the first cornerstone-laying ceremony for the Center during the stewardship of then Chief Justice Andres R. Narvasa.

Throughout his term, Chief Justice Hilario G. Davide Jr. pursued the dream further by seeking financial assistance from the Japanese government. That request for funding was finally granted through the kind support and determined persistence of His Excellency, Ambassador Ryuichiro Yamazaki.

It was during my term as Chief Justice, specifically on January 26, 2006, when Ambassador Yamazaki handed over the “strings-free” P300 million grant to the Philippine government, and then to the Supreme Court. With this sum in our bank account, our long-awaited dream of a PhilJA Development Center will indeed come to concrete reality.

Preparations for the PhilJACenter

I am happy to note the positive steps to accelerate the immediate construction of the Center. The PhilJA Development Center Project Implementation Committee, created as a result of the Action Planning Workshop held on February 22, 2006, has immediately drafted and approved the Terms of Reference (TORs) for the Detailed Architectural and Engineering Design (DAED) and the Project Management Consultancy. The budget for the DAEDContract, as well as the timelines for the project, has likewise been approved.

These TORs, approved budget, and timelines have been referred to the Bids and Awards Committee (BAC) of the Action Program for Judicial Reform (APJR), which is tasked to handle all the bidding procedures for the services, works and goods relative to the project. In turn, the APJR Bids and Awards Committee (BAC) has forwarded to the Court En Banc for approval its recommendation for the Detailed Architectural and Engineering Design consultant.

Onward with the Tradition of Excellence

PhilJA is the first and only training school for the Philippine judiciary. As envisioned, the renovation and construction of the PhilJA Development Center will make its academic programs and physical facilities comparable with those of other training institutions. In particular, the expansion program will transform it into a national and, I hope, an ASEAN regional hub for (1) continuing legal and judicial education, (2) pre-judicature training, (3) judicial career enhancement, and (4) various programs in specialized areas of the law.

The PhilJA Center could not have come at a more opportune time. This year, on behalf of the Supreme Court, I have signed with the judiciaries of Spain and Egypt, cooperation agreements on judicial education and training, as well as judicial documentation. These Agreements should pave the way for reciprocal study visits of judges of the contracting parties as well as seminars and workshops on subjects of mutual interest to both countries, consultancies, meetings between the heads of judicial training institutes or academies, and joint research projects and publications.

Similar agreements are already being firmed up with France, the United Kingdom, Russia and Pakistan. With those agreements in place, we hope to open up more training programs and courses to our judges, not only here but also in the foreign judicial institutes mentioned. The exchanges to be generated through these cooperation agreements — on sharing knowledge, best practices, and technical cooperation — will also definitely contribute to the improvement of our standards of training and education in the Center.

Meanwhile, our recent discussions with Australia, Thailand, Indonesia, and other countries in Asia and the Pacific, have highlighted to us the possibility of adopting common curricula for justices and judges in the region. This undertaking was proposed on separate occasions in March of this year: during the first round-table discussion of the Asia- Pacific Judicial Reform (APJR) Network in Australia; and also during the Asian Justices Workshop on the Environment. Should plans for the adoption of a common curriculum materialize in the near future, then the PhilJA Center’s curricular offerings would be at par with those in the region.

Research on Judicial Science and Court Technology

In line with efforts to provide continuing legal education, researches to advance the frontiers of judicial science and court technology will also have to be prioritized.

Thus, the PhilJA board of trustees has prepared the way for a renewed focus on science and court technology and has thus strengthened its Court Technology Department.

Stricter Admission and Passing Requirements

Eventually, under the aegis of PhilJA, we also hope to establish a special school for young lawyers who aspire to become career judges. We foresee this special school for judges to be similar in concept and orientation to our very own Foreign Service Institute. Entrants will have to pass a battery of very competitive examinations and interviews, aimed at gauging their preparedness and suitability for judicial positions.

Competitive examinations will ensure equal opportunity for all. Thus, no one who passes the rigid entrance requirements will be denied enrollment, simply on account of poverty. I am taking steps to ensure that the Center would be able to grant scholarships and extend financial assistance to poor but deserving applicants.

By ensuring that only the best and the brightest will be trained for a career in the judiciary, we hope to bring about professional judges who will not just be steeped in the law, but also be deep in ethical and moral values. The graduates will then be assured of a place in the highest echelons of the judiciary.

Already, we are looking at the judicial institutes of other countries—Japan, Korea, Australia and France—as models for the organization and structure, as well as the licentiates and/or diplomates that will be offered in our very own school for judges.

Addressing the Problem of Judicial Incompetence

At the beginning of my term as Chief Justice on December 21, 2005, I immediately vowed to lead a judiciary characterized by four Insindependenceintegrityindustry and intelligence.

I also announced my commitment to continue the ongoing Action Program for Judicial Reform by focusing on four basic problems, which I have code-named ACID: limited access to justice by the poor, corruption,incompetence, and delay in the delivery of quality justice.

In line with those objectives, the construction of the Center and the strengthening of PhilJA as the primary education arm of the Supreme Court rightly deserve priority. After all, the intensified campaign to eradicate the corrosive effects of ACID can be waged much faster and more successfully if we start at the very foundations of judicial training and education. That mission we can and will undertake through the PhilJA Development Center!


In closing, may I invite all of you to join hands with me in building the PhilJA Development Center, our chronicle of faith and our testament of hope for a reformed judiciary.

Maraming salamat po!


Address delivered by Chief Justice Artemio V. Panganiban during the unveiling of the foundation stone marker of the Philippine Judicial Academy (PhilJA) Development Center in Tagaytay City, on November 30, 2006.

The 33,151 square-meter facility was formerly owned by the Ridge Resort Corporation (now the PhilJA Development Center, Inc.).

The Committee was formally constituted on March 31, 2006, when I signed Administrative Circular No. 34-2006. The officers and members are as follows:

Chairperson: Justice Ameurfina A. Melencio Herrera (PhilJA)
Vice-Chairperson: Justice Minerva P. Gonzaga-Reyes (PhilJA)
Members: Justices Presbitero J. Velasco (OCA), Francisco S. Tantuico, Jr. (PhilJA), and Jose C. Vitug (PhilJA); Attys. Edna E. Diño (OCA) and Corazon F. Flores (FMBO); Dean Cesar L. Villanueva (PhilJA), and Director Evelyn Dumdum (PMO)
Resource Persons: DCA Jose P. Perez (OCA), Directors Susan N. Gavino and Cedile V. Dumdum (both of the PMO); and Mr. Policarpio G. Felicidario, Jr. (PhilJA).
bq(notes). Technical Operations Group: Engineers Leonel Urdaneta (PMO) and Joan Cabe (OHJ), and Architect Dennis Velasco (PMO).
Recorder-Secretary: Atty. Ma. Melissa R. Dimson
Asst. Recorder-Secretary: Ms Ma. Luisa A. Magno
Support Staff: as may be designated
Atty. Emmanuel L. Caparas was designated as the new chairperson. Named as members were Attys. Jesus M. Disini Jr. and Ray C. Espinosa.


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