Monday, October 20, 2008

SC's Proposal To Use Filipino As Court Language A Travel Back To Time?

The people behind the Supreme Court's proposal to use the Filipino language in all court proceedings should know that shifting to any language won't make for a more judicial justice system.

What the country's justice system needs is a reform. More importantly, the components of the justice system specially the lawyers and the judges need a rebirth and maybe a "going back" to their legal ethics subjects. However, this is just like saying every Filipino should repent and go back to Christ.

The logic behind the SC's intention to use the Filipino language in court proceedings is to improve the understanding of the marginalized sector on the different court processes and also to improve their access to justice. The SC may be barking at the wrong tree. What the majority of the poor Filipinos need is access to lawyers. Even if the court proceedings are all in the Filipino language, people would still not have access to justice if they do not have lawyers who will brief them on their court options.

Case in point:

There was one young lawyer (now in the States) who advised her client (a reporter who was facing libel charges) to just prepare money for bail. The lawyer refused to appeal the case to the Department of Justice to exhaust all remedies prior to the filing of the case in court. It's funny because legal ethics provide that any lawyer should exhaust all actions to make sure the client gets justice.

What the SC should do is to establish more free legal centers like the one being run by the Ateneo de Davao University College of Law. Atty. Manuel Quibod has been doing a good job in maximizing the resources of the Ateneo Legal Aide, sometimes asking the help of law students to help those who do not have access to justice.

It seems the SC is hell-bent in changing the court's language from English to Filipino since it has already scheduled a seminar-workshop on October 21 and 22 at the Bulacan State University in Malolos. During the seminar, the Philippine Judicial Academy legal experts are expected to come up with a training program to be used by the judiciary when they start using the Filipino language in court litigation.

So what's next? Perhaps mandating that all law students and law professors should use Filipino in class? How about changing the law books and the SCRA as well as the decided cases to the Filipino language also?

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