PHILJA CURRICULUM REVIEW
On August 14, 2014, PHILJA convened the most brilliant minds in judicial education for a PHILJA Curriculum Review, in response to the directive of the PHILJA Board of Trustees, to re-visit the training curricula and ensure that the substance of PHILJA programs meet the needs of the judiciary and current trends in judicial education. The activity was designed: to develop a strategic training plan based on needs assessment, including skills training, professional development and personal growth; to learn, develop, and adopt new methods in judicial education in relation to emerging trends and technological advances; and to formulate programs which address distinct educational needs and enhance specific skills of judges and court personnel who work in highly specialized areas of law.
PHILJA Chief of Office for Academic Affairs Justice Delilah Vidallon-Magtolis presented the PHILJA Highlights from 2012-2013 which provided: the current state of PHILJA activities; statistics on the core programs completed and their profitability ratings; trends in PHILJA courses; and issues and concerns in the delivery of curricula.By way of introduction to the curriculum review proper, Justice Hilarion L. Aquino, Department of Ethics and Judicial Conduct Chair, and Fr. Ranhilio C. Aquino, Department of Jurisprudence and Legal Philosophy Chair, presented The Problem of Integrity and Teaching of Judicial Ethics and Current Trends and Developments in Judicial Education, respectively.
The PHILJA Curriculum Review was carried out in two discussion sessions: the first was a presentation addressing what judicial training should be, considering the comments and suggestions previously gathered from the Chief Justice and Supreme Court justices; the second was a re-examination of PHILJA programs with department chairpersons/member-representatives presenting their respective comments and suggestions.
Prior to the forum, Chief Justice Maria Lourdes P.A. Sereno provided PHILJA her observations and recommendations for the activity through her paper A Thought Piece on the Philippine Judicial Academy Curriculum Review. SC Associate Justices Martin S. Villarama, Estela M. Perlas-Bernabe, Mario Victor F. Leonen, and Lucas P. Bersamin were also interviewed for their thoughts and comments on enhancing judicial education. The Justices responded to the discussion points given them earlier; Justice Bienvenido L. Reyes addressed the points in a letter. The Justices’ common comments and suggestions placed emphasis on the following: how to conduct pre-trial; skills-based modules, e.g., management, decision writing, strong oral and written skills, court governance to include challenges and developments in judicial processes; apprising judges on latest developments in law, recent legislative acts and SC decisions, rules and procedures; maximizing the benefits of PJP and accreditation from other law schools; ethics; and use of mock trial and interactive case-based simulations to apply critical thinking skills in decision making. The Chief Justice’s thoughtpiece as well as the inputs from the associate justices interviewed proved substantial in the discussions on what judicial training should be and served as the roadmap during the PHILJA Curriculum Review.
Professor Sedfrey M. Candelaria, Head of the Research, Publications and Linkages Office, summarized the comments and recommendations towards the end of the program, which included a proposal to convene another forum to study and approve the new curriculum.
All PHILJA executive officials; 22 department chairpersons, vice chairpersons, and members of the 14 academic departments attended the activity, with 13 PHILJA lawyers and staff assisting.