The Supreme Court of the Philippines signed a Memorandum of Agreement with Union Bank of the Philippines (UnionBank) last March 15, 2021 for the Judiciary ePayment System Project, an application designed to provide the Supreme Court, and all the over 2,000 courts in the country, options to receive fees and payments digitally from litigants, their counsels and representatives in a safe, secure, real-time, 24/7 basis from anywhere at their convenience.
Present at the signing were Chief Justice Diosdado M. Peralta, retired Chief Justice Reynato S. Puno, now an Independent Board Member of UnionBank, and Dr. Justo A. Ortiz, Vice Chairman of the Board of UnionBank, who signed the MOA for UnionBank, together with Court Administrator Jose Midas P. Marquez, who signed for the Supreme Court.
Also present were UnionBank officers, Executive Vice President Ana Aboitiz Delgado representing Board Member Sabin Aboitiz, Senior Executive Vice President Henry R. Aguda, Senior Vice President Atty. Joselito Banaag and members of the UnionBank Project Team led by Ma. Cecilia Bernad, Francesca Montes, Alfonso Tanjuatco and Jeraline Canlas as well as Supreme Court officials including Deputy Court Administrator Raul B. Villanueva, and Assistant Court Administrator and Spokesperson Brian Keith F. Hosaka.
In a statement, Chief Justice Peralta thanked UnionBank for “offering its technical assistance to the Judiciary in the form of digital transformation consultancy, process automation, and development of application systems, among others.”
“This offer comes at a very opportune time as the Philippine Judiciary is currently in the midst of its quest for digital transformation and at a time when online service is a great advantage due to the COVID-19 pandemic when face-to-face transactions are discouraged whenever possible. For this, we are profusely grateful to UnionBank,” said the Chief Justice.
Under the agreement, UnionBank becomes the technology and banking partner of the Supreme Court in its digitization journey and is the first universal bank to be onboarded in the Judiciary ePayment System. UnionBank will provide technical assistance, free of charge, to the SC in the form of IT and process advisory, consulting, deployment of mutually agreed IT experts and business process engineers, extension of the use of mutually agreed IT tools that UnionBank will be utilizing in the project as well as provide implementation plans to cover all phases.
This pioneering project aims to standardize rules and assessments for the eleven account types identified by the SC for payments required. It also aims to eliminate reconciliation issues for funds received by automatically correlating the main litigation transaction to the said eleven account types.
To realize the project’s benefits, UnionBank will deliver two components. First, is the launch of a Judiciary Web Facility that will be used by litigants, their counsels and representatives, to access information, automatically have their fees assessed, do online payments, or get a reference number online corresponding to their online assessment and do over-the-counter payment in their respective courts. Second, is a Judiciary ePayment Portal that will be used by the judiciary staff for accepting over-the-counter payments with online assessments, tracking and reporting of payments from various courts, payments management, electronic audit trails, and financial reporting related to payments.
UnionBank’s journey to digital transformation has always had the guidance of one of its independent directors, retired Chief Justice Renato Puno, who makes sure that transformation initiatives are relevant to legal conventions, constructs, and traditions. Through this guidance, the Bank is constantly calibrated that it does not do technology for technology’s sake. It uses technology to better its customer experience and community as a whole. UnionBank now aims to be an active participant-observer in the modernization of the country’s judicial system.
The Judiciary ePayment System will be rolled out around the country to first and second-level courts with pilot courts identified as follows: in Pasig for the National Capital Region, in Malolos, Bulacan for Luzon, in Bacolod City for the Visayas, and in Davao City for Mindanao. Project completion is expected by 3Q 2021.
This project is in line with UnionBank’s comprehensive strategy called “Tech Up, Pilipinas”, which is utilizing technology to promote financial inclusion for sustainable prosperity, particularly of the unbanked and the underserved, and is a vital component for the realization of the Philippines’ vision to become a G20 country by 2050.
“We are especially proud of this engagement because the Supreme Court of the Philippines is an institution of great trust with deep historical and psychological roots in Filipino lives as guardian of the Constitution, final arbiter of our laws, and guarantor that we are all equal under the law. So, we, in UnionBank, are very cognizant of the trust the Supreme Court has, in turn, vested in us to deliver on this project and value greatly this opportunity to be of service to the Filipino people and ‘Tech Up Pilipinas’,” said UnionBank Vice Chairman Dr. Justo A. Ortiz.
In a statement, Ortiz said that UnionBank looks forward to more opportunities to make new traditions in areas such as e-notarization, e-docket system, adoption of blockchain technology, online continuing learning for members of the bar and of the judiciary, and in any technological endeavors that would digitally transform the judiciary.