CHARLOTTE, North Carolina—A lady judge based in Impasug-ong-Sumilao, Bukidnon province in northern Mindanao, Philippines may have to wait for sometime to be with her family due to travel restrictions caused by the Covid-19 pandemic.
Judge Jerlie Luis Requerme spends her free time seeking inspiration from sources like New Yorker writer David Brooks who wrote in his book ‘The Road To Character’ about finding meaning in life and she finds her purpose in the community she serves.
Judge Jerlie Requerme is a respected member of the legal community. She is on a study leave from her tenure at the 3rd Municipal Circuit Trial Court of Impasug-ong-Sumilao Bukidnon and is the first Filipino recipient of the McCain Institute Next Generation Leaders program.
Judge Requerme was nominated by the US Embassy for the one-year program. But this year the program was shortened to nine months and it started in September 2019 at Arizona State University based in Washington, DC. She is with seven leaders from around the world to further develop her leadership and professional skills.
A mother of three boys, Judge Requirme is an active U.S government exchange alumna partner of the U.S Embassy in its program in Mindanao. The McCain Institute Next Generation Leaders is a highly selective program, she told me.
She explained that when she accepted the offer, she was struck by the program’s vision to empower character-driven leaders from around the world. Judge Requerme said the program gave her a clarity of purpose.
‘It made me look deeper into myself and see whether I want material success or give back to the community I am in. I have always approached life with gratitude. I am blessed richly with way much more than I deserve,’ she said.
She is grateful to be a part of this character-driven leadership program. For now, Judge Requerme is at the National Center for the State Courts (NCSC)-International Program Division at Arlington, Virginia.
The Center  is a non-profit organization started by the US Supreme Court Chief Justice. One of its divisions, the NCSC International provides technical assistance, training and technology to enhance justice systems and services around the world.
As an integral part of the fellowship, Judge Requerme said the program participants are tasked to implement a Leadership Action Plan (LAP) in their home countries. She told fellow participants and lecturers that her circuit court is located in the relatively remote area of Impasug-ong-Sumilao Bukidnon province in Mindanao.
In the Philippines less than 15 percent of the country’s 2,718 trial courts are pilot sites of the electronic court system and they are spread in 12 areas nationwide. None of the trial courts of the 1st and 2nd level courts handling 706,335 cases as of December 2018 have downloaded digital backups of case records.
Thus Judge Requerme, who started out as a clerk of court at the Regional Trial Court of Misamis Oriental–Cagayan de Oro, said the country needs to level up their courts to better protect their case records and ensure efficient administration of justice. Back in 2014 she participated in the US Department of State’s month-long International Visitor Leadership Program which she credits with broadening her horizons in her life and in her work.
Her proposed leadership action plan which is stakeholder based involves practical use of information technology through mobile devices like cell phones and computers to enable people to seek legal assistance without going to the offices of prosecutors and public attorney's offices in Malaybalay City.
She is optimistic that the local governments in Bukidnon and the IBP community fully support her plan.
A former Ten Outstanding Student of the Philippines awardee in 1998, Judge Requerme paraphrased theologian Albert Schweitzer who said ‘anybody who proposes to do good must not expect people to roll any stones out of his way and must calmly accept his lot even if they roll a few more onto it.’
Life away from home is really hard, she said. Judge Requerme said her husband Engr H. Anthony and her children are supposed to join her last month but the pandemic postponed their trip. ‘I am a family oriented person and my family would always come first,’ she said.
Judge Requerme is actively engaged in different advocacies that spans more than two decades. A student leader, peace and environmental advocate educator, speaker and lecturer, she is a champion of women and children’s rights. She is a lecturer of Mandatory Legal Education and an incumbent officer of the Philippine Trial Judges League Inc.
Judge Requerme sits in the board of directors of the Federacion Internacional De Abogadas (FIDA-CDO) and currently chairs the Region-10 Committed and Empowered Leaders of the Outstanding Students of the Philippines Alumni Community (TOSP-AC) as well as BUGKOS-The US Government Alumni Community in Cagayan de Oro.
The judge is a recipient of the Pillars of Youth Leadership Award given by the Parliament Alumni Association, Inc. Judge Requerme obtained both her degree in International Relations (Magna Cum Laude) and Bachelor of Laws (First Honorable Mention) at the Mindanao State University on a full academic scholarship.
Despite her schedule she find time to read books such as romance novels and legal fiction by John Grisham. ‘I recently loved a book by David Brooks entitled The Road to Character. I like Nietzsche's quote in the book, “He who has a why to live for can bear almost any how. The whys in our lives keep us going, motivating us to continue doing the things we are most passionate about’ Judge Requerme said.
‘I love watching romantic comedies especially Korean dramas nowadays. But my all time favorite movie is Amistad, a 1997 movie about leadership and slavery,’ she said. Judge Requerme said she has a ‘colorful and happy childhood.’
‘I am a proud true-blooded barrio lass from far-flung Sta. Josefa town in Agusan del Sur province. I am the third in a brood of four. I experienced climbing fruit trees and swimming in the river. My father retired from service at the Department of Agriculture and became a farmer and my mother is a retired public school teacher,’ she said.
‘My parents are very supportive and I was nurtured as a child. They would even help me make my bookmarks whenever I participated in student groups in schools. I was a choir member in our church that is located in front of our house,’ Judge Requerme said.
As she continues on her leadership program journey in the US, Judge Requerme seeks out more inspiration from a quote she recently used as her guide which goes ‘Start where you are, use what you have, do what you can.’ There is no stopping this young judge from pursuing her goals in life and I wish her all the best.