Martin ROMUALDEZ AT IBP – Speaker Ferdinand Martin G. Romualdez, a lawyer and President of the Philippine Constitution Association (Philconsa), delivers his message before members of the Integrated Bar of the Philippines (IBP) during its 50th anniversary held at SMX Davao City Friday night. Photo by VER NOVENO


February 18, 2023 Ryan Ponce Pacpaco 291 views
AICS FOR TRIKE DRIVERS – Speaker Ferdinand Martin G. Romualdez, Majority Leader Manuel Jose “Mannix” Dalipe, Davao Del Norte Vice Governor De Carlo “Oyo” Uy and Tagum City Mayor Rey Uy flash the Tingog Care sign and give a thumbs-up during the release of the Assistance to Individuals in Crisis Situation (AICS) Program to 1,600 tricycle drivers at the Energy Park Gym in Tagum City Friday afternoon. Photo by VER NOVENO

Speaker Romualdez: To speed up administration of justice

THE House of Representatives is considering several judicial reform bills to speed up the administration of justice, Speaker Ferdinand Martin G. Romualdez said Friday night.

Romualdez made the statement during the 19th National Convention of Lawyers and the golden jubilee celebration of the Integrated Bar of the Philippines, of which he is a member.

The event was held at the SMX Convention Center in Davao City.

Romualdez said that both the House and the Senate are looking at the country’s criminal justice system “as one key area for reform.”

He said one law the House intends to revisit is the 92-year-old Revised Penal Code, or Act No. 3815 passed on December 8, 1930, which “has served us well.”

“However, with globalization and the birth of the internet in 1983, many of the injustices that society endures at present, like cybercrime and transnational crime, are simply beyond the ambit of the Revised Penal Code to address,” he said.

He commended the inter-agency Code of Crimes Committee, headed by retired Sandiganbayan presiding justice Edilberto Sandoval, for drafting the proposed Code of Crimes.

The Speaker said the draft code provides, among others, a new system of penalties that may be imposed for proven criminal activities, including community service and more realistic fines and other penalties.

It also proposes to modernize the penal terminology, incorporate the Dangerous Drugs Act, and define and include cybercrime.

He thanked the Sandoval committee for exercising prudence in “leaving certain matters to the discretion of Congress, such as the imposition of the death penalty and the like.”

Romualdez said in recognizing the “inherent risks in the practice of law,” the House is tackling a bill that seeks “to protect the practice through the imposition of stiffer penalties for the killing of members of the bench and bar.”

Another bill proposes to grant hazard pay to regional trial court judges and prosecutors.

There are also pending measures to create a Criminal Justice Reform Commission to investigate and prevent wrongful convictions, prohibit and penalize the unauthorized practice of law, prescribe legal standards and procedures for product liability litigation, strengthen fraud detection, and establish an online legal knowledge and assistance system that is accessible nationwide, he said.

The Speaker pointed out that legislation and the practice of law have similarities.

“Our experience at the House of Representatives has shown time and again that the road to meaningful change is fraught with formidable challenges. We nonetheless stay the course, without losing our focus on the end result that is worthy of all the sacrifices,” he stressed.

“The practice of law is much the same. Each day, we go out there and propound what we know to be true and just. Our crusade takes place usually in the courts, in government institutions and, some in public spaces where the people’s exercise of their rights and freedom are tested,” he added.

Romualdez congratulated his fellow lawyers on their organization’s golden jubilee.

“The IBP indeed has come a long way in the pursuit of its mission to elevate the standards of the legal profession, improve the administration of justice, and enable the bar to discharge its public responsibility more effectively,” he said.

However, he said the IBP cannot rest on its laurels and should continue to move forward with the times.

He urged his lawyer-colleagues “to seize every opportunity to be catalysts for change, leading the way to bring about a better, more efficient, timely and speedy dispensation of justice.”

The House leader recalled his own admission to the bar in 1993.

“It was a solemn moment for me as I willingly imposed on myself the commitment to continuously uphold the standards of public service excellence in my practice of this noble profession. It is a commitment that I strive to fulfill each and every day,” he said.

He challenged the IBP to consider what it can achieve over the next 50 years.

“I dare say that the IBP shall remain an important member of the Philippine society for as long as we continue to abide by the rule of law and justice,” he said.

He said lawyers should continue to “play important roles in the fair and speedy administration of justice and upholding the rule of law as an integral part of Philippine society that actively make substantial and meaningful contributions in our nation’s sustained economic development and peace and security for the Filipino people.”

“Let us rise to this challenge and continue building a fair and just Philippine society,” he said.