CEBU CITY, Oct. 11 (PIA)--Cebu City is now declared a "Justice Zone," the second in the country and the first outside Metro Manila.
No less than Supreme Court (SC) Justice Teresita Leonardo-de Castro, Department of Justice (DOJ) Secretary Menardo Guevara and high officials of the Department of the Interior and Local Government (DILG) were present during the launch at the Cebu City Hall of Justice.
The establishment of the Cebu City as a Justice Zone was made by the Justice Sector Coordinating Council (JSCC) which according to Leonardo-de Castro has not been convened for a long time.
The first Justice Zone according to the SC Chief Justice was established in 2014 in Quezon City with the support of the European Union's Governance in Justice (Go Just) Program.
"We are hoping that Cebu City will come up with its programs, tailor fit to the needs of the local justice system," Leonardo-de Castro said.
The justice zone is an area where local justice sector agencies such as police prosecutors, judges, public attorneys, and managers of detention facilities, identify common problems and arrive at common solutions to address them.
"This will promote coordination, communication and cooperation between justice sectors," Leonardo-de Castro said.
For the DOJ's part, Secretary Guevara said it is about time that there is collaboration between the implementers of order and justice.
"For a long time, we had been accustomed to work in isolation, now that wall has to be broken," Guevara said.
His Excellency Franz Jessen, Ambassador of the European Union to the Philippines said they are confident the event will signal the launch of similar efforts in the other parts of the country on local justice coordination.
"We are excited to note that judicial reform efforts are moving toward at the local level where justice should be most felt," Jessen said.
During the work planning of the Cebu City Justice Zone, the stakeholders have proposed to strengthen the availability of legal aid for poor litigants even during evening arrests, and also to maximize the newly approved guidelines on plea bargaining so that more drug users can go into rehanilitation instead of incarceration.
The Go Just program facilities increased communication, coordination and cooperation in the justice sector through the JSCC at the national level and the roll out of the Justice Zone concept at the local level as the main mechanism for embarking on a long term agenda. (fcc/PIA7-Cebu)