'Rule of law must prevail as ASEAN integrates'
BORACAY, Philippines – The Philippines plays host of the 3rd ASEAN Chief Justices Meeting – a high-level discussion held March 1 to 3 meant to boost judicial cooperation within the region. Buena Bernal reports.
A night of fun and laughter, and a full day of discussing pressing judicial issues across Southeast Asia.
Philippine legal luminaries gather here in Boracay island to welcome Chief Justices from member-states of the Association for Southeast Asian Nations or ASEAN.
Supreme Court Spokesperson Theodore Te says efficient courts are vital as the bloc moves towards a single market and production base.
THEODORE TE, SUPREME COURT SPOKESMAN: There was discussion on continuing training and education in terms of the ASEAN judiciaries. In this respect, I think the co-leads for this would be Philippines and Indonesia. That would not involve only laws of a particular country but laws across ASEAN.
The only female in the group, Philippine Chief Justice Maria Lourdes Sereno leads the discussion.
She believes there's a long way to go before legal processes can be uniform across the bloc given existing structural differences.
MARIA LOURDES SERENO, PH CHIEF JUSTICE: Philippine judiciary comes largely from the American tradition. But since our independence, we have been innovating on our own. But largely, still, it is an American-influenced framework. The others are British. The others are more French and German. The others have very very indigenous [frameworks]. The others have Dutch [tradition]. Many have mixed jurisdictions. So even explaining how our processes work actually takes time."
Despite these differences, the leaders agreed to create a single English-language portal of laws across the region.
They also create a working committee to tackle child custody disputes between nationals from two different ASEAN member-states.
BUENA BERNAL, REPORTING: And as the bloc moves towards a freer flow of goods, services, and skilled labor, Sereno says ASEAN judiciaries must ensure that the rule of law prevails.
Buena Bernal, Rappler, Boracay.