JSCC launches Ba­colod City Jus­tice Zone

Sun Star Bacolod - - Topstories - BY MERLINDA A. PEDROSA

THE Jus­tice Sec­tor Co­or­di­nat­ing Coun­cil (JSCC) launched the Jus­tice Zone project in Ba­colod City at the Ba­colod Gov­ern­ment Cen­ter yes­ter­day.

The JSCC, jointly headed by the Supreme Court (SC), De­part­ment of Jus­tice (DOJ), and the De­part­ment of the In­te­rior and Lo­cal Gov­ern­ment (DILG), named Ba­colod City as a Jus­tice Zone on the ba­sis of JSCC Joint Res­o­lu­tion No. 05-2019 signed on Au­gust 15, 2019 at the Prin­ci­pal’s meet­ing in Manila City.

The launch­ing was led by Chief Jus­tice Lucas Ber­samin, Jus­tice Sec­re­tary Me­nardo Gue­varra, DILG Sec­re­tary Eduardo Ano, Euro­pean Union (EU) Head of Co­op­er­a­tion En­rico Stram­pelli, and Ba­colod City Mayor Eve­lio Leonar­dia.

Ba­colod City is the fifth Jus­tice Zone in the Philip­pines, with the first be­ing Que­zon City, which was launched in 2014, fol­lowed by Cebu City in 2018. Other Jus­tice Zone in­cludes Davao and An­ge­les, which were both launched in the first half of 2019.

Jus­tice Zones are ar­eas where lo­cal jus­tice sec­tor agen­cies such as the po­lice, pros­e­cu­tors, judges, pub­lic at­tor­neys, and man­agers of de­ten­tions fa­cil­i­ties showed out­stand­ing co­or­di­na­tion in iden­ti­fy­ing and ad­dress­ing com­mon chal­lenges.

“In answer to the clamor for jus­tice sec­tor re­form in the Philip­pines, Jus­tice Zones have been es­tab­lished to strengthen the co­or­di­na­tion and col­lab­o­ra­tion of the Jus­tice Sec­tor Co­or­di­nat­ing Coun­cil prin­ci­pals rep­re­sented by the DOJ, DILG, the SC and the com­po­nents of the lo­cal jus­tice sec­tors, the po­lice pros­e­cu­tors, judges, pub­lic at­tor­neys, and man­agers of our de­ten­tions fa­cil­i­ties,” Ber­samin said.

He said through the strength­en­ing of the de­liv­ery of the re­spec­tive ser­vices, through co­or­di­na­tion among themselves, ef­fi­ciently and ef­fec­tively move for­ward the ends of jus­tice.

“The Philip­pine De­vel­op­ment Plan, which is the coun­try’s medium plan for 2017- 2022, rec­og­nizes the JSCC and pro­motes the es­tab­lish­ment of Jus­tice Zones Un­der Chap­ter 6 en­ti­tled Pur­su­ing Swift and Fair Ad­min­is­tra­tion of Jus­tice,” he added.

Ber­samin noted Jus­tice Zone is an area or lo­cal­ity where a min­i­mum num­ber of in­ter-agency co­or­di­nated ef­forts are present. Ren­der­ing the area or lo­cal­ity fully com­plaint based on the rat­ing sys­tem es­tab­lished by the JSCC. The min­i­mum num­ber of re­forms present for an area or lo­cal­ity to be de­clared as a jus­tice zone is forty.

“But, I am happy to say that Ba­colod gathered scores of 74 out of 92 or 80 per­cent dur­ing the re­source map­ping ex­er­cise con­ducted jointly by the JSCC’S tech­ni­cal work­ing groups on processes and ca­pac­ity build­ing,” Ber­samin said.

He said the goal of the Jus­tice Zone is to see trial judges and court em­ploy­ees re­duce their court dock­ets and dis­pense judg­ment in a timely man­ner. To see the pros­e­cu­tion ser­vice to ef­fi­ciently re­solve crim­i­nal complaints in­volv­ing vi­o­la­tions of the Pe­nal Laws, to see the pub­lic at­tor­neys to com­pe­tently as­sist their clients, to see the po­lice en­sure the timely ap­pear­ance as wit­nesses of their in­ves­ti­ga­tors and the foren­sic chemist, ev­i­dence cus­to­di­ans and ar­rest­ing of­fi­cers, and to see the jail of­fi­cers to ef­fec­tively man­age their de­ten­tion fa­cil­i­ties in the con­text of re­for­ma­tion of all per­sons de­prived of lib­erty (PDL).

“As you all know by now, I am on my last few weeks as Chief Jus­tice of the Philip­pines. I have there­fore started look­ing back at the less than one year I’ve spent in this of­fice. And have been openly won­der­ing if I have done enough re­forms, if I’ve met enough peo­ple, and I’ve touched enough lives. This is my main mo­ti­va­tion when I re­quested the JSCC core sec­re­tariat and rel­e­vant tech­ni­cal work­ing group to look for two more Jus­tice Zones that we can launch be­fore my retirement, and that’s Ba­colod and Naga cities,” he added.

Gue­varra said the de­liv­ery of jus­tice is a com­plex and dif­fi­cult chal­lenge be­yond the power of a sin­gle in­sti­tu­tion or per­son to ad­dress.

He said the events th­ese past two weeks at­test to this.

Gu­verra cited the case of a former lo­cal gov­ern­ment of­fi­cial con­victed of hav­ing raped a col­lege stu­dent from the uni­ver­sity, and maybe among the 11,000 PDLS who could po­ten­tially ben­e­fit from retroac­tive ap­pli­ca­tion.

“At this very mo­ment, as we speak, a joint review com­mit­tee formed by the DOJ and the DILG has con­vened in Manila to study the ram­i­fi­ca­tions of the Supreme Court’s di­rec­tive to retroac­tively ap­ply the Repub­lic Act 10592,” Gue­varra said.

He said its works will cor­rect any pos­si­ble flaws in, and rec­om­mend pos­si­ble amend­ments to, the ex­ist­ing Im­ple­ment­ing Rules and Reg­u­la­tions, and es­tab­lish the in­sti­tu­tional checks and bal­ances to en­sure the ex­pe­di­tious and cor­rect im­ple­men­ta­tion of the law.

“This joint review com­mit­tee is man­dated to, among oth­ers, spell out in the IRR the ex­clu­sions intended by the law,” he added.

For his part, Año said he also rec­og­nized the EU for part­ner­ing with the Jus­tice Sec­tor Co­or­di­nat­ing Coun­cil (JSCC) in ad­vanc­ing the coun­try’s jus­tice sys­tem through the Go­just Pro­gramme.

“I’m pleased with the devel­op­ments tak­ing place in our jus­tice sys­tem and would like to com­mend the ini­tia­tives of SC, DOJ, and the four part­ner agency, the EU, for tak­ing great plains to un­clog our courts as well as our de­ten­tion fa­cil­i­ties,” he said.

He added : “with the five Jus­tice Zones al­ready es­tab­lished, I’m sure that we will be able to attain

the 14 Jus­tice Zones we tar­get to launch na­tion­wide by 2022. In fact, we are even look­ing into as­sist­ing im­pov­er­ished and con­flictaf­fected ar­eas im­prove their jus­tice sys­tem and stop the preva­lence of in­jus­tice so that they too can be­come Jus­tice Zones, because th­ese are places where many cases of in­jus­tice pre­vails.”

The EU also wel­comed the es­tab­lish­ment of Ba­colod City as a Jus­tice Zone by the JSCC.

Stram­pelli said the es­tab­lish­ment of Ba­colod City as the newest Jus­tice Zone shows that the Philip­pines is mak­ing strides to bring about much-needed re­forms in its jus­tice sys­tem.

He said by fos­ter­ing co­op­er­a­tion be­tween the Jus­tice Sec­tor Co­or­di­nat­ing Coun­cil at the na­tional level and the Jus­tice Zone at the lo­cal level, we look for­ward to see­ing more re­forms on lo­cal jus­tice co­or­di­na­tion na­tion­wide.

“We are also grate­ful for the collective lead­er­ship of Chief Jus­tice Ber­samin, Jus­tice Sec­re­tary Gue­varra and DILG Sec­re­tary Año for their com­mit­ment to ad­vance this coun­try’s jus­tice re­form agenda,” he added.

Leonar­dia said that Ba­colod is very happy for the launch­ing of JSCC’S here.

“We are flat­tered that we are the fifth of all the cities in the Philip­pines that have been given this chance to be a Jus­tice Zone. This is all about in­creas­ing the pres­sure ef­fi­ciency, ef­fec­tive­ness and ac­count­abil­ity which should lead to in­clu­sive growth and the poverty re­duc­tion,” he said.

He added: “For us in Ba­colod, af­ter hav­ing fo­cused on econ­omy, growth and cul­ture, this is for us what will com­plete the pic­ture for growth and we are very thank­ful that the co­or­di­nat­ing coun­cil had con­cluded that compliance wise the stake­hold­ers of Ba­colod de­served to be the num­ber five in the Philip­pines to­day.”

Leonar­dia dis­closed that when he was in Congress, the very first bill that be­came a law that he has filed was the cre­ation of the three Re­gional Trial Courts in Ba­colod City.*

THE Jus­tive Sec­tor Co­or­di­nat­ing Coun­cil (JSCC) launches the Jus­tice Zone project in Ba­colod City led by Chief Jus­tice of the Philip­pines Lucas Ber­samin (Cen­ter), De­part­ment of Jus­tive Sec­re­tary Me­nardo Gue­vara, De­part­ment of the In­te­rior and Lo­cal Gov­ern­ment Sec­re­tary Eduardo Año, Euro­pean Union to the Philip­pines Head of Co­op­er­a­tion En­rico Stram­pelli, and Ba­colod City Mayor Eve­lio Leonar­dia at the Ba­colod Gov­ern­ment Cen­ter yes­ter­day./map

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