Justice Azcuna gives a brief account on judicial training
Justice Adolfo Azcuna, the author of Writ of Amparo—one of the most important rule adopted by the Supreme Court, spoke at the Ateneo Professional Schools (APS) campus in Rockwell, Makati City on September 29, 2016 in a lecture titled “ Training the Judiciary: The Philippine Experience 1996- 2016.”
Azcuna, the Lux-in-Domino recipient of the university’s 2016 Traditional University Awards, talked about the Philippine Judicial Academy (PHILJA), a training school for justices, lawyers, and those aspiring for judicial posts. Azcuna currently serves as PHILJA’s chancellor.
Addressing his audience of mostly students from the Ateneo Law School, Azcuna said, “The millennials of today will be the judges and practitioners tomorrow. The courts of tomorrow will be what PHILJA will train them to be.”
Established in 1996, PHILJA is a government-mandated training institution. The academy offers courses and programs from pre-judicature to advancements in a judicial career. Azcuna was appointed chancellor following his retirement from the Supreme Court in 2009. He succeeded Justice Ameurfina Melencio Herrera. The appointment came 2 years after then Chief Justice Reynato Puno approved the Writ of Amparo, which protects the constitutional rights of any individual. It includes extralegal killings and enforced disappearances.
In his lecture, Azcuna discussed the various teaching practices that PHILJA uses. These include lectures, workshops, panel discussions, demonstration trial and moot courts, and role playing.
Developing judicial competence takes time, he said. “We do not admit anybody who finishes law school. They (first) have to practice (law) for 5 years” before they could get into PHILJA.
He also spoke of PHILJA’s challenges, one of which pertains to its curriculum. “It’s a 20- year-old curriculum,” he said. “This is the challenge that we face in the future. What do you think our judges should learn? What should they be?” He encouraged the future lawyers in the APS auditorium to be part of the process in refining the curriculum. They will after, inherit the Philippine judiciary.