Last edited: November 2005
Summary and Analysis
On January, 26 1990 the Philippines ratified the United Nation Convention on the Rights of the Child with no reservations. The Convention has the force of law. In December 2000, the Supreme Court passed into law the Rule on Examination of a Child Witness. This law addresses the best interests of the child through procedures specifically designed for dealing which children according to their capacities in court proceedings.
Section 5 of the Rule which states that the Court shall appoint a guardian ad litem (GAL) to protect the best interests of the child, applies to child protective proceedings.
Recently the opportunities for children to be heard in judicial and administrative proceedings have increased in the Philippines under the Council of Welfare for Children which was established in an effort to comply with the requirements of Article 12. Judges, court social workers, prosecutors, defense lawyers and police officers, and jail officers are being trained on child sensitive procedures for court proceedings. Court appointed special advocates (CASA) and GALs have been trained to assist children to intervene in the courts, although there is no statute providing for CASAs. CASAs are volunteers who are organized through the CASA-GAL Foundation and Ateneo Human Rights Center, with support from UNICEF.
Sources of Law (In Order of Authority)
UN Convention on the Rights of the Child
1. State parties shall assure to the child who is capable of forming his or her own views the right to express those views freely in all matters affecting the child, the views of the child being given due weight in accordance with the age and maturity of the child.
2. For this purpose, the child shall in particular be provided the opportunity to be heard in any judicial and administrative proceedings affecting the child, either directly, or through a representative or an appropriate body, in a manner consistent with the procedural rules of national law.
Rule on Examination of a Child Witness
Sec 2. Objectives. The objectives of this Rule are to create and maintain an environment that will allow children to give reliable and complete evidence, minimize trauma to children, encourage children to testify in legal proceedings, and facilitate the ascertainment of truth.
Sec. 3. Construction of the Rule. This Rule shall be liberally construed to uphold the best interests of the child and to promote maximum accommodation of child witnesses without prejudice to the constitutional rights of the accused.
Sec. 4. Definitions -
(e) A “guardian ad litem” is a person appointed by the court where the case is pending for a child who is a victim of, accused of, or a witness to a crime to protect the best interests of the said child.
(g) “Best interests of the child” means the totality of the circumstances and conditions as are most congenial to the survival, protection, and feelings of security of the child and most encouraging to his physical, psychological, and emotional development. It also means the least detrimental available alternative for safeguarding the growth and development of the child.
Sec.5. Guardian ad litem
(a) The court may appoint a guardian ad litem for a child who is a victim of, accused of, or a witness to a crime to promote the best interests of the child. In making the appointment, the court shall consider the background of the guardian ad litem and his familiarity with the judicial process, social service programs, and child development, giving preference to the parents of the child, if qualified. The guardian ad litem may be a member of the Philippine Bar. A person who is a witness in any proceeding involving the child cannot be appointed as a guardian ad litem. .
(b) The guardian ad litem: .
(1) shall attend all interviews, depositions, hearings, and trial proceedings in which a child participates;
(2) shall make recommendations to the court concerning the welfare of the child;
(3) shall have access to all reports, evaluations, and records necessary to effectively advocate for the child, except privileged communications;
(4) shall marshal and coordinate the delivery of resources and ices to the child;
(5) shall explain, in language understandable to the child, all legal proceedings, including police investigations, in which the child is involved;
(6) shall assist the child and his family in coping with the emotional effects of crime and subsequent criminal or non-criminal proceedings in which the child is involved;
(7) may remain with the child while the child waits to testify;
(8) may interview witnesses; and
(9) may request additional examinations by medical or mental health professionals if there is a compelling need therefore.
(c) The guardian ad litem shall be notified of all proceedings but shall not participate in the trial. However, he may file motions pursuant to Sections 9, 10, 25, 26, 27 and 31(c). If the guardian ad litem is a lawyer, he may object during trial that questions asked of the child are not appropriate to his developmental level.
(d) The guardian ad litem may communicate concerns regarding the child to the court through an officer of the court designated for that purpose.
(e) The guardian ad litem shall not testify in any proceeding concerning any information, statement, or opinion received from the child in the course of serving as a guardian ad litem, unless the court finds it necessary to promote the best interests of the child..
(f) The guardian ad litem shall be presumed to have acted in good faith in compliance with his duties described in Sub-section (b).
Sec. 9. Interpreter for child.
(a) When a child does not understand the English or Filipino language or is unable to communicate in said languages due to his developmental level, fear, shyness, disability, or other similar reason, an interpreter whom the child can understand and who understands the child may be appointed by the court, motu proprio or upon motion, to interpret for the child.
(b) If a witness or member of the family of the child is the only person who can serve as an interpreter for the child, he shall not be disqualified and may serve as the interpreter of the child. The interpreter, however, who is also a witness, shall testify ahead of the child.
(c) An interpreter shall take an oath or affirmation to make a true and accurate interpretation
Local Contact Information
Alberto T. Muyot
Additional Resources and Links
Vilches, Nimfa Cuesta, The Casa/Gal Volunteer Program Jurisdiction: Philippines, available at http://members.tripod.com/asialaw/articles/casavilches.html, and also here, and also as .pdf Document, and also as Word Document.
Adhikain Para sa Karapatang Pambata, An Interdisciplinary Analysis of Philippine Jurisprudence on Child Sexual Abuse, at http://www.childprotection.org.ph/monthlyfeatures/dec2k2a.rtf.
 A. Myuot (personal communication November 6, 2005).
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