SC Launches Bench Book for Family Courts

Championing the best interests and welfare of families and children, the Supreme Court on Friday launched the Bench Book for Family Courts which represents the Judiciary’s steadfast commitment to provide children access to justice and protect them from all forms of abuse and exploitation.

Senior Associate Justice Estela M. Perlas-Bernabe, Chairperson of the Supreme Court Committee on Family Courts and Juvenile Concerns, led the hybrid launch at the Session Hall of the Bench Book, a comprehensive guidebook outlining the procedures on the different aspects of the family law.

“Rest assured that the Court will continue to push for legal reforms geared towards the protection and welfare of our children,” said Senior Associate Justice Perlas-Bernabe, as she presented the Bench Book to Court officials and guests.

Senior Associate Justice Perlas-Bernabe revealed that the Supreme Court En Banc has recently approved the implementing rules and regulations of the social aspect of RA 8639, otherwise known as the Family Courts Act of 1997. She expressed her gratitude to the Court En Banc for the swift and decisive approval of the IRR, which she said shall be separately launched by the Court in coordination with the Department of Social Welfare and Development and other stakeholders.

In his keynote, Chief Justice Alexander G. Gesmundo underscored the importance of the document that will serve as a guide for court personnel including Justices, judges, and court staff in the treatment and disposition of child and family cases. The Chief Justice also framed the development of the Bench Book as part of the Court’s support to the implementation of Republic Act No. 8369, otherwise known as the Family Courts Act of 1997, which established Family Courts with exclusive original jurisdiction over child and family cases and which have now extended to include other special laws on domestic violence, trafficking, and cybercrimes.

“This Bench Book for Family Courts reflects the Court’s unwavering commitment to uphold and protect the interests of family, women, and children and the delivery of justice for victims of domestic violence and other forms of child exploitation and abuse,” Chief Justice Gesmundo said.

The Chief Justice also emphasized that the Bench Book will prove to be crucial at this time when cases of domestic violence against women and children are on the rise because of containment measures coupled by financial shocks and psychosocial distress caused by the pandemic.

Also in attendance at the Session Hall were Justice Ramon Paul L. Hernando, Justice Amy C. Lazaro-Javier, Justice Henri Jean Paul B. Inting, Justice Jhosep Y. Lopez, and Justice Jose Midas P. Marquez. Joining online were Justice Marvic M.V.F. Leonen, Justice Alfredo Benjamin S. Caguioa, and Justice Mario V. Lopez.

Also joining in in person were Retired Chief Justice Teresita J. Leonardo-de Castro, who acted as consultant of the Committee on Family Courts and Juvenile Concerns, Philippine Judicial Academy Chancellor Rosmari D. Carandang, Court Administrator  Raul B. Villanueva, Public Information Office Chief Brian Keith F. Hosaka, Judicial Reform Program Administrator Laura C.H. Del Rosario, and other Court officials. The other Court officials joined online. 

Deputy Court Administrator Jenny Lind R. Aldecoa-Delorino, member of the Committee on Family Courts and Juvenile Concerns, hosted the event.

The launch was also attended by the SaferkidsPH Consortium and the Australian Embassy headed by His Excellency Steven J. Robinson, AO, Australian Ambassador to the Philippines. The Consortium, which is composed of Save the Children, The Asia Foundation (TAF), and UNICEF, provided technical assistance in developing the Bench Book with support from the Australian Embassy. The development partners congratulated the Supreme Court for the adoption of the Bench Book which brings together various information on the laws, jurisprudence, and best practices on child and family cases. UNICEF was represented by M. Patricia Lim Ah Ken, TAF by Mr. Sam Chittick, and Save the Children Philippines by Atty. Alberto T. Muyot. (SOURCE: Supreme Court of the Philippines. SC Launches Bench Book for Family Courts | Supreme Court of the Philippines (judiciary.gov.ph). Last accessed: April 22, 2022, 8:35PM)

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