Although the Philippines is not a member of the Pacific Judicial Council, the Philippine delegation that took part in last week’s four-day conference at the Fiesta Resort & Spa Saipan’s Hibiscus Hall were extremely pleased at being able to attend.
Caloocan City Regional Trial Court Presiding Judge Gina Hidalgo, who is president of the Philippine Judges Association and head of the 15-judge delegation to the PJC conference, told Saipan Tribune that they were satisfied with the security measures up to the topics discussed.
“The people are warm and the organizers were accommodating,” said Hidalgo.
The members of the delegation are all national officers and directors of the Philippine Judges Association. They are all presiding judges of the regional trial court—a second level court in the Philippines. The delegates represented almost all regions of the Philippines.
Hidalgo said that it was Guam Supreme Court Associate Justice Robert J. Torres Jr. who invited them to the biennial conference. She met Torres when the latter was a speaker in one of the judges’ seminar in the Philippines.
It was the first time for all Philippine judges to attend the PJC conference.
Besides the conference itself, the delegation also played at being tourists, reveling in the weather that is very much the same as the Philippines. Among the places they visited were the American Memorial Park, Banzai Cliff, and the Bird Island Lookout.
“We had a sunset cruise and we got to see the beautiful sunset,” Hidalgo said.
She said they look forward to coming again.
The Pacific Judicial Council biennial conference kicked off last Tuesday and ended last Friday. About 130 judges, justices, lawyers, law clerks, and guests joined the conference. The participants came from PJC member judiciaries—the CNMI, Guam, American Samoa, Palau, Chuuk, Pohnpei, Kosrae, and Yap.
Guam Supreme Court Associate Justice F. Philip Carbullido, who is chairman of the PJC education committee, said the conference is about sharing and discussing ideas, information, and resources to provide solutions to the islands’ common challenges.
U.S. District Court for Guam Chief Judge Frances Tydingco-Gatewood, who is PJC president, said that PJC’s mission is to provide a collaborative and educational forum.
Member jurisdictions rotate hosting the biennial conference since PJC was established in 1991.
The CNMI Judiciary last hosted the conference in 2009.
CNMI Supreme Court Chief Justice Alexandro C. Castro said that PJC was formed at a time when the six districts in Micronesia were going through a political transformation, the CNMI in 1975, Palau in 1994, and the Marshalls and Federated States of Micronesia in 1986.
Castro said PJC’s main objective is to maintain communication with the other island judiciaries notwithstanding the political transformation, helping each other in the sharing of ideas, resources, and finding solutions to common challenges.
“As I look back, I am happy to say that throughout the years, that objective has not been lost, but it has worked effectively for the advancement of the rule of law and the administration of justice in our island nations,” Castro said.