Gender-Neutral Language in Philippine Supreme Court Decisions


  • Florian Kim Dayag University of the Philippines


The language that courts employ is vital in the development of law and society. In the modern-age of gender consciousness, it is critical to recognize the role that language plays in gender dynamics and to deviate from the use of gender-specific (mostly, masculine) language that further perpetrates inequality and marginalization. In the Philippines, both Filipino and English are recognized as official languages. While Filipinp is a predominantly gender-neutral language, English still employs gender-specific language. Yet, English remains to be the principal language used in court proceedings and processes. In so doing, the legal system has, whether consciously or not, embraced the use of gendered language common in the English language. On 15 February 2022, the Philippine Supreme Court promulgated the “Guidelines on the Use of Gender Fair Language in the Judiciary and Gender-Fair Courtroom Etiquette” which seeks to provide a uniform rule with regard to the use of gender-neutral language in court processes and documents. The paper seeks to examine the use of “gendered” language in Philippine case law and the impact, if any, of the Guidelines to Supreme Court decisions after its issuance.