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Chief Justice Gesmundo and Ambassador Garcia-Albano Consult With The Filipino Community in Japan

Chief Justice Gesmundo (fourth from left) and Ambassador Mylene J. Garcia-Albano (third from right) with the members of the Supreme Court and the Filipino community in Japan.

6 March 2024, Tokyo. In his first official visit to Japan, Chief Justice Alexander G. Gesmundo joined Ambassador Mylene J. Garcia-Albano for a public conversation with members of the Filipino community on their perception of the legal system in the Philippines.

The conversation, which was also attended by Associate Justices Rodil V. Zalameda, Samuel H. Gaerlan and Midas P. Marquez, highlighted the numerous problems encountered by overseas Filipinos in using the law for themselves.

Some of those in the audience reported on the difficulties faced by Filipino women divorcees in obtaining Philippine judicial recognition of their Japanese divorce decrees.

Without judicial recognition of their foreign divorce, under Philippine laws, these women remain legally married to their Japanese spouses who have divorced them. Many of them lose their immigration status as they cannot remarry their partners who could have had petitioned for their continuous stay in Japan.

Other attendees attribute the difficulties faced by overseas Filipinos in accessing the Philippine legal system to complicated court procedures, negligence of lawyers, high legal fees, or even deliberate delay of court processes by judges.

Chief Justice Gesmundo acknowledged the issues raised by the audience and informed them of the Supreme Court’s release of the Strategic Plan for Judicial Innovations 2022-2027 (SPJI).

According to Chief Justice Gesmundo, the SPIJ 2022-2027 aims to solve perennial problems of the judiciary through innovations in services to “ensure greater access to justice” for all. He emphasized the SPIJ’s thrust towards “technologically adaptive management,” or the use of technology to run basic court systems and processes.

On the use of technology for court hearings in the Philippines, the Filipino practicing lawyers brought to the attention of the audience the unavailability of court rules on videoconferencing and judicial affidavit for use of overseas Filipinos living in Japan.

Chief Justice Gesmundo assured the lawyers that their concerns will be addressed jointly by the Supreme Court and the Philippine Embassy in Tokyo.