CHIEF Justice Alexander G. Gesmundo led the opening of the first National Shari’ah Summit, which is aimed to integrate the “Islamic way of life” into the country’s judicial system.
In his speech last Sunday, CJ Gesmundo told delegates that the 2-day summit was held in line with the Supreme Court justices’ commitment during their visit in Marawi City in September last year to address the issues of Filipino Muslims.
Part of the objectives of the summit, according to the Chief Justice, is to conduct a review of the overall performance of the Shari’ah justice system, identify the strengths and weakness in the various aspects of the Shariah justice system that promote or impede their efficiency, examine the societal and cultural contexts and identify the opportunities and threats that affect functioning of a sound Shari’ah justice system and define the implication for strengthening the Shari’ah justice system and identify the appropriate comprehensive and long-term reform direction.
In order to achieve the summit’s objectives, Gesmundo said a study in the creation of additional Shari’ah courts outside of the Bangsamoro Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao and its implications on the current Shari’ah courts will have to be conducted.
THE Committee on Shari’ah Justice led by Senior Associate Justice Marvic M.V.F. Leonen as chairman and Associate Justice Japar B. Dimaampao as vice chairman will also assess the possibility of expanding the jurisdiction of the Shari’ah courts, to include both criminal and commercial cases.
A feasibility study will also be conducted on the formal organization of the Shari’ah High Court.
“We are sure and optimistic that this Shari’ah Summit will achieve its goal of strengthening the Shari’ah justice system,” the Chief Justice said. “Truly, this day will usher a new beginning not just for the Shari’ah justice system but also for our judicial system in general.”
Gesmundo also raised the possibility of amending the Shari’ah Rules of Court in order to make court proceedings and processes “more user-friendly, more understandable to ordinary court users, and thereby more transparent.”
In line with this, he proposed the establishment of a helpdesk per court stations to assist lawyers and litigants needing Shari-ah court-related information and services.
Around 300 300 members of the legal profession, including justices, judges, prosecutors, and lawyers from all branches of government have committed their participation in the historic event held at Limketkai Luxe Hotel in Cagayan de Oro City.
Shari’ah counselors, Shari’ah judges, members of the academe, representatives of non-governmental organizations, as well as foreign delegates from countries which implement Shari’ah laws are also among the participants.
Image credits: Bernard Testa