As early as December 2018, the Philippine Judicial Academy (PHILJA) was invited to collaborate in knowledge sharing and capacity building programs to be proposed to the ERASMUS Institute for funding and technical assistance through the offer of the University of Málaga in Spain, represented by Jose Manuel de Torres Perea, Professor Titular de Derecho Civil. The Academy’s participation implies the organization of knowledge sharing programs with visiting European Criminal Law Professors who will share legal developments in Europe and the modernization of laws as they may be relevant in the Philippine setting. There is also an offer to the Academy to participate in courses relative to the field of judicial education in joint projects with other foreign institutions in Spain, Portugal, and Ireland.
As the state-mandated judicial education institution for the Philippine Judiciary, the Academy has the capacity and competency to contribute to the legal modernization aspect of the project by enabling the members of the Philippine Judiciary, particularly the judges, through capacity-building courses. These courses would deepen their knowledge on the updated transitions on laws and jurisprudence and strengthened by comparative discourses from foreign jurisdictions to be later applied to the Philippine setting. Also, the faculty of PHILJA shall be engaged in the project activities that would elevate their capacities as the instructional force of the Academy.
Pursuant to Court en banc Resolution A.M. No. 19-02-03-SC-PHILJA, the Court approved the designation of PHILJA as beneficiary of the Grant Agreement on Capacity Building for Legal and Social Advancement in the Philippines (CALESA) with then Chancellor Adolfo S. Azcuna and Chief of Office for Research, Publications and Linkages, Dean Sedfrey M. Candelaria, as key representatives. PHILJA has previously facilitated the signing of the Partnership Agreement by the Chief Justice of the Philippines, evidencing the commitment of PHILJA and the Supreme Court of the Philippines in the CALESA Project.
The programme countries under the Grant Agreement are University of Málaga (Spain), Universidad de Deusto (Spain), Universidade Nova de Lisboa (Portugal), and University College Dublin (Ireland), with the Philippines as partner country. In the Philippines, the other beneficiaries of the Grant Agreement along with PHILJA are University of the Philippines, Ateneo de Manila University, San Agustin University, and Ateneo de Zamboanga University.
In this regard, PHILJA is participating in the development of Work Package 2 – Activity 1 (WP2 - Activity 1) – Modernization of Criminal Law. The Partnership Agreement provided a brief rationale of this activity:
Some areas of Philippine Law are outdated because the Codes inherited from the Spanish colonial era have been substantially retained. This implies a double reality that of updating the codes and that of updating the teaching programmes of the Law Schools. It is perhaps criminal law that suffers most from this lack of updating. This seminar has been designed so that Spanish professors can work together with Philippine professors in order to guide them in the re-elaboration of Criminal Law courses in a systematic way. In fact, they are still teaching it by explaining the articles in their order in the Penal Code. In addition, the other objective is to carry out an exhaustive research work to provide them with material that can serve as a reference for the modification of their outdated criminal legislation.
The ERASMUS+ CALESA Project, through a knowledge sharing seminar, provides an opportunity for envisioning reforms in the current penal code of the country. As a concrete consequence of the project, an impetus impact will be made through a prospective legislative enactment in the area of criminal law in the Philippines. Pending any law reform initiative, and as far as practicable, the comparative law conference may be useful in enhancing PHILJA’s trainings for judges.
Following the project workplan, PHILJA initiated its first stage by undertaking a research study on a comparative matrix of the Revised Penal Code of the Philippines and Spanish Penal Code aimed to serve as a ready reference for the resource speakers, reactors, and participants for the second stage of the workplan which is the Knowledge Sharing on Modernization of Criminal Law Seminar-Workshop on June 6 to 9, 2022 at The Judicial Academy Philippines, Tagaytay City, Philippines.
This seminar-workshop will bring together, face-to-face and in an online virtual platform, legal experts, law makers, law enforcers, members of the judiciary and the academe to exchange best practices on the development of Criminal Law from the Spanish and Philippine perspectives.
The last stage in the project workplan is a publication of the proceedings of the seminar-workshop to further sustain the learnings thereat and provide a tangible output for the WP2-Activity 1.
The role of PHILJA after this project is to coordinate with the Legislative branch of the government for the purpose of providing insights on the comparative law impact of the project. There is a commitment to guide the Philippine legislators in addressing the law reform initiatives arising from this project. Lawyers and law schools will also benefit from the project because of the potential changes in Criminal Law practice in the future.
Justice Mario V. Lopez is the 185th Associate Justice of the Supreme Court of the Philippines.
Retired Supreme Court Associate Justice Rosmari Declaro Carandang was appointed as Chancellor of the Philippine Judicial Academy on February 22.