Chief Justice Alexander G. Gesmundo lamented the “abusive use” of technology that “exploits and victimizes children who are the marginalized and vulnerable but valuable sector of society.”
Gesmundo’s lament was aired during a virtual courtesy call on the SC by representatives of SaferkidsPh Consortium, a six-year program initiated by the Australian government in 2019 to reduce the prevalence of online sexual abuse and exploitation of children in the Philippines through enhancing the child protection system.
He also expressed deep concern over reports that “there is a heightened online abuse and exploitation of children amidst the COVID-19 (coronavirus disease) pandemic.”
He assured representatives of SaferKidsPH that “the Philippine Judiciary is committed in doing its part in ensuring access to justice for those who are victims of deplorable and vicious activities.”
The Chief Justice also told them that the SC has approved the recommendation of Senior Associate Justice Estela M. Perlas-Bernabe, chairperson of SC Committee on Family Courts and Juvenile Concerns (CFCJC), for the drafting of a comprehensive “Benchbook” for the disposition of family cases.
The SC, he said, also approved the participation of appellate court justices, SC officials, trial court judges who are members of the CFCJC technical working group, and court personnel in the project, and the coordination by the SC’s Program Management Office with SaferKidsPH Consortium for possible support.
SaferKidsPH thanked Chief Justice Gesmundo for the SC’s “efforts in protecting children’s rights,” as it pledged its commitment to continue its partnership with the SC “by continuously supporting the Judiciary in its reforms pertinent to children’s right.”
In behalf of the SC, Chief Justice Gesmundo thanked SaferKidsPH for its support as he noted that the United Nations International Children’s Emergency Fund (UNICEF), through The Asia Foundation (TAF), provided equipment and technical support to enable selected Philippine trial courts to conduct live-link testimony of children witnesses.
He also thanked TAF which supported the Philippine Judicial Academy (PhilJA), the education arm of the SC, on the conduct of its various programs, including the development of modules on competency enhancement training on child protection, among others.
The SC’s public information office (PIO) said that among those who paid the Chief Justice an online courtesy visit were lawyer Alberto T. Muyot of Save the Children Philippines; Mr. Thanh Le of the Australian Embassy; Ms. Oyunsaikhan Dendevnorov and Mr. Behzad Noubary of UNICEF-Philippines; and Mr. Ethan Geary of TAF.
Chief Justice Gesmundo was joined by Senior Associate Justice Bernabe, Associate Justices Ramon Paul L. Hernando, Rodil V. Zalameda, Henri Jean Paul B. Inting, Mario V. Lopez and Jhosep Y. Lopez, Court Administrator Jose Midas P. Marquez, SC Spokesperson and PIO Chief lawyer Brian Keith F. Hosaka.
Those who also attended were Philippine Judicial Academy (PhilJA) Chancellor Arturo D. Brion, Court of Appeals Justices, and SC officials.
Judicial Reform Program Administrator lawyer Laura C.H. Del Rosario was at the SC’s division hearing room with the Chief Justice during the virtual courtesy call.