The Metrobank Foundation, Inc. (MBFI) and Philippine Judicial Academy (PhilJA) conferred this year’s Metrobank Foundation Professorial Chair in Law to Court of Appeals Associate Justice Maria Filomena D. Singh during the 17th Metrobank Foundation Professorial Chair on March 5, 2021 at the Supreme Court En Banc Session Hall, City of Manila. She is the first-ever female chairholder in the program’s 19-year history.
Associate Justice Singh presented a paper entitled “Wielding the Sword: The Role of Judicial Education in the Administration of Justice.” She highlighted in her lecture the crucial role of judicial education and training in the swift and efficient delivery of justice.
Participants were comprised of Supreme Court (SC), Court of Appeals, Sandiganbayan and Court of Tax Appeals justices, lawyers from SC and appellate courts, PhilJa officials, MBFI representatives, and institutional partners who joined the session live and online via Zoom.
Her paper “advances the thesis that judicial education and training, in tandem with broad institutional reform, is a keen weapon to cut case delay and court congestion.” In this context, she underscored the importance of timely and effective adjudication to regain the public’s trust and confidence in the judiciary—through the continuous learning and capacity-building of judges who are the immediate representatives of justice in the country.
“Now more than ever, the public’s confidence in the judiciary is crucial if the third branch of government is to fulfill its role as the last bastion of right and justice. Integral to resurrecting such public confidence is inspiring belief in our judicial officers. The line between ethics training and public trust is straight but long. Nevertheless, we must not hesitate to take the first step,” Singh emphasized.
To this end, she recommended three (3) crucial pathways that the Philippine Judiciary can embark on towards the collective pursuit of “delivering justice real time”: 1) Training and assessment to enhance the judges’ performance of the dual role of being adjudicators and administrative managers; 2) Promoting the culture of immersion and peer-mentoring among judges; and 3) calling for increased budget allocation to implement said measures.
Meanwhile, MBFI President Aniceto Sobrepeña reiterated the shared hope of the participating institutions. “The title of the lecture alone evokes a potent image and delivers a strong message. We hope that the lecture will further equip us with possible strategies as we consistently strive to enhance judicial education in the country. This can only be done if we set to the task, as aptly put, of wielding our swords well, for the public.”
A joint undertaking between MBFI and PhilJA, the professorial chair seeks to promote capacity-building and excellence in the judiciary and legal education through the delivery of timely and comprehensive discourses by seasoned legal practitioners.
Associate Justice Singh joins esteemed professorial chairholders such as Chief Justice Diosdado Peralta (2019), Court of Appeals Associate Justice Japar Dimaampao (2018), Retired Supreme Court Associate Justice Romeo Callejo (2017), Retired Court of Appeals Associate Justice Magdangal de Leon (2016), Retired Supreme Court Associate Justice Jose Vitug (2014), Supreme Court Associate Justice Marvic Leonen (2009) and Retired Supreme Court Associate Justice Adolfo Azcuna (2007).
Metrobank Foundation likewise recently provided support to the Judicial Integrity Board (JIB) in its inaugural lecture given by Chief Justice Diosdado Peralta. The Supreme Court has recently reintroduced the JIB as part of Peralta’s Ten-Point Program. It aims to further strengthen the Judiciary by focusing on key areas namely efficiency, integrity, security, and service.