By Minerva Newman
CEBU CITY – Justice Zone, a program under the European Union Justice Sector Coordinating Council (EU-JSCC) called GOJUST was launched in Cebu City Friday by Supreme Court Chief Justice Teresita Leonardo-de Castro along with officials from the Department of Justice (DOJ), Department of the Interior and Local Government (DILG) and other local officials.
Chief Justice De Castro said the Justice Zone is an area where local justice sector can create a system to tailor-fit their needs and the local community as well.
The justice sector, composed of the police, prosecutors, judges, public attorneys, managers of detention facilities and others can come up with an appropriate structure for better cooperation and collaboration, de Castro said in her keynote message.
The Justice Zone is a venue where the various justice sector can discuss and identify common problems and come up with solutions to address the same, the Chief Justice added.
The Justice Zone will be located at the 1.5 hectare lot at the South Road Properties (SRP) donated by the Cebu City Government for the construction of the justice complex.
EU Ambassador to the Philippines Franz Jessen said the EU is excited to note that judicial reform efforts are moving forward at the local level where the delivery of justice is most needed.
According to the Chief Justice, Cebu City has demonstrated a convergence of justice sector reforms efforts like jail and court decongestion initiatives, electronic courts, initiatives to combat human trafficking, among others.
The City is ready to institutionalize coordination among the justice sector agencies, she added.
The EU welcomes the establishment of Cebu City Justice Zone as its commitment to support the justice sector reforms in the country, Jessen said.
In a planning session of the Cebu Justice Zone, the stakeholders proposed to strengthen the availability of legal aid to poor litigants.
They also proposed to maximize the newly approved guidelines on plea bargaining for more drug users can go into rehab, instead of jails/prison, among others.