Philippinen: Adoracion Cruz Avisado

It is not easy to advocate, but persistence pays off. I suffered the persecution and was ostracized by my colleagues. But I just had to be gracious, until they accepted that I would not give up."

— Adoracion Cruz Avisado

Adoracion C. Avisado (born 1952), a feminist lawyer from Davao City, is an active campaigner for the rights of women against spousal abuse and other reforms in the Philippine judicial system. Appointed trial court judge in 1999, she earned a reputation for her speedy disposition of cases. An activist feminist even within the judiciary, she helped empower court stenographers, who are mostly women, to fight sexual harassment by their superiors. She resigned in 2004, after five years as a judge, and returned to civil society where she continues to advocate for judicial reform.

Gender equality and a sense of fairness were values instilled in Adoracion Avisado by her father, a businessman. Working briefly as clerk of court during the martial law years, she saw how the military threatened the independence of the judiciary by coercing its judges to rule against political activists. She saw the sufferings of women activists who were raped while in detention. As a private law practitioner, Adoracion handled prominent cases involving violence against women. She helped in the conviction of two rapists after traumatic court battles that nearly caused the women accusers to give up, and she trained police personnel in gender sensitivity. Working in an NGO which she formed, she monitored cases of rape, incest and violence against women, and prodded the police to act on such cases quickly. Later, as judge of the lone special drugs court, seeing how delays in court action affected poor litigants, she resolved cases speedily by working double time, conducting full-blown trials, thus earning the respect of the Philippine High Court, which cited her in 2001 for her speedy action on cases. Even as a judge, she remained a feminist activist. She found letter writing an effective means of directing the attention of her fellow judges and her superiors in the High Court to important issues, and helped a court stenographer file a sexual harassment case against a judge. But the High Court did not form a committee on decorum and investigation until a year later, and the local lawyer moved to have the case dismissed. Disappointed by the outcome of the case, she resigned as a judge and is now back in civil society where she speaks from experience and not merely in slogans when she advocates for transformative justice. She remains optimistic, however, that the judiciary can be reformed.

Avisado Advocacy, Consultant, Counseling, and Training Services Center Womenet National Commission on the Role of Filipino Women