Improving Governance to Reduce Poverty: Access to Justice for the Poor

In 2001, the Supreme Court and the European Commission (EC) delegation to the Philippines initially discussed the possibility of an EC grant to fund activities in line with the Action Program for Judicial Reform (APJR).  In 2003, the SC Project: Access to Justice for the Poor Project was approved by the EC and the Government of the Philippines. Later, the Supreme Court was replaced by the Department of Social Welfare and Development as Executing Authority.

The project’s main objective was to enable the poor in general,and poor women and children in particular, in selected project areas, to pursue justice through their increased knowledge about basic rights and the judicial system, and to create an enabling, supportive environment to this effect within the judiciary and the institutions of law enforcement, as well as an overall legal framework amended to ensure the rights of poor women and children in particular. The project sought to expand theInformation, Education and Communication infrastructure of the Court system by delegating one Clerk of Court as Municipal Court Information Officer (MCIO) in the Municipal Courts in the project areas.  The project also sought to establish legal information desks in co-operation with the Barangay Council and Chairperson.  Capacity building activities were conducted for those involved in the Barangay Justice System, paralegals, women and children. An effort was made to enhance the sensitivity of those working in law enforcement and the judiciary to the problems of the poor.

Under the project, the ALG reviewed existing laws (and their implementation) directly relevant to the poor, and especially women and children, to check whether they are in compliance with human rights and internationalhuman rights conventions signed by the Republic of the Philippines. (This included the identification of amendments to the laws necessary to make them compliant with those human rights and international conventions).The ALG also advocated possible amendments in the laws, including the KatarungangPambarangay (Barangay Justice) system, in relevant fora including workshops meant to sensitize local and national government officials and members of Congress on the conditions of the poor and in particular of poor women and children.

The ALG managed the implementation of the Legal Reform Component of the Project and coordinated with the Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD) and other project implementers.

Date: July 11, 2020