MANILA, Philippines -- The Supreme Court will hold another multisectoral gathering, which will focus on how to help poor people get access to justice and protect their rights.
The high court first held a multisectoral meeting in 2007 to address the issue of extra-judicial killings and enforced disappearances.
The ?Forum on Increasing Access to Justice: Bridging Gaps and Removing Roadblocks? will be held simultaneously in three venues in Luzon, the Visayas and Mindanao from June 30 to July 1. Participants will be linked through videoconferencing.
The forum would gather inputs directly from members of society who found it difficult to participate in the judicial process and from stakeholders of the justice system, the high court said in a statement.
It said it expected to learn about the concerns of the poor and their recommendations to make the judicial system more open, fair and friendly to those who did not have money, power or influence.
The participants will include representatives of the poor and members of non-government organizations. There will also be several speakers at the event, including government officials and sectoral group representatives. Observers from the media, the academe, diplomatic corps and donor organizations have likewise been invited.
The forum was initially planned for last March but it had to be moved because the justices? time was taken up by many important cases.
In an interview last February, Chief Justice Reynato Puno said the aim was to level the playing field and provide relief to the poor, farmers, fishermen, women and children in conflict with the law, and indigenous people and others who were usually intimidated by the abstract and cumbersome court processes.
He said he wanted to make sure that the socio-economic rights of marginalized people were protected and respected. He added he would like to see the forum come up with concrete action plans.
?In the rules of procedure, what are their problems with it? We might think these are okay, but there may be something there that is giving them difficulty, so we will fix it. We want to be more focused on more specific projects, and not have a declamation contest,? he said.
He noted that many people in power claimed to be champions of the poor, especially during elections, but most of these claims were just rhetoric.
?We are all champions of the poor, especially during elections, but all we do is talk,? he said.