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SC holds national summit to strengthen Shari'ah justice system

The Supreme Court on Sunday kicked off a two-day national summit in a bid to strengthen the support for the Shari'ah justice system in the country and address some issues related to it.

In his speech during the 1st National Shari’ah Summit held in Cagayan De Oro City, Chief Justice Alexander Gesmundo said that it was a constitutional duty, if not moral obligation, to promote an inclusive legal environment without biases against all genders, social sectors, religious belief, and political persuasion.

“[W]e believe that mere access to justice will not suffice; genuine access is the goal. Court services must be accessible to everyone equally. We must provide an effective platform for Filipinos from all walks of life to articulate their rights when injustice has been perpetrated, to attain redress and expect fair resolution through judicial action, and to freely partake in the judicial process undeterred by traditional barriers of inequality, such as education, wealth, gender, geography, ethnicity, and even religion,” he said.

Gesmundo said that among the concerns raised in a meeting with the National Commission on Muslim Filipinos (NCMF) were the possibility of creating Shari’ah courts in areas outside of Mindanao, the appointment of judges to vacant Shari’ah courts, the creation of an Integrated Shari’ah Bar of the Philippines, and the inclusion of Shari’ah as a course in law school, among others.

In response to this, the Chief Justice pointed out that all three branches of government, not just the judiciary, must work together to make these possible.

Strengthening the Shari’ah justice system, according to him, was also part of the judicial reform program Strategic Plan for Judicial Innovations (SPJI) 2022-2027, which aims to “establish new frameworks and adopt new approaches, but at the same time, build on and re-purpose existing ones, to achieve the longtime aspiration of delivering responsive and real-time justice.”

Shari'ah is Muslim law, which refers to all the ordinances and regulations governing Muslims as found principally in the Qur'an and the Hadith, according to Presidential Decree 1083 or the Code of Muslim Personal Laws of the Philippines. — DVM, GMA Integrated News