The Department of the Interior and Local Government (DILG) said on on Thursday, March 24, that Balanga City in Bataan was established as the country’s newest “Justice Zone.’’
DILG Sec. Eduardo Año said this will pave the way for closer coordination among the different justice sector agencies and ensure the swift and efficient delivery and administration of justice in the area.
“We are pleased that the City of Balanga has been formally launched as the newest justice zone in the country. Kaya naman sa pag-arangkada ng Balanga City Justice Zone, inaasahan natin ang mas mabilis at mas epektibong pagtugon at paglutas sa mga suliraning sanhi ng mabagal na pag-usad ng hustisya (That is why with the jumpstart of Balanga City Justice Zone, we expect the more expeditious and effective response and resolution of problems related to the slow delivery of justice),’’ said DILG Secretary Eduardo M. Año.
Balanga is the eighth Justice Zone in the country and is also the second to be launched amid the Covid-19 pandemic following Calamba City in 2021. The six other Justice Zones are Quezon City, Cebu City, Davao City, Angeles City, Bacolod City, and Naga City.
A locality is qualified to be a Justice Zone if it meets the “Justice Zone Components” checklist developed by the Justice Sector Coordinating Council (JSCC) composed of the Supreme Court (SC), Department of Justice (DOJ) and DILG.
A minimum of 40 components, consisting of the elements of a criminal case from its start-up to adjudication to post-judgment incidents, must be present in the locality for it to be eligible.
During the launch held recently, Año said that justice zones will help address the issues that plague our justice system that provoke people “to turn to violence and overstep their boundaries—mainly out of disgruntlement to the slow wheels of justice.”
He stressed that people who are deprived of justice are also easily convinced and duped by communist terrorist groups to join their cause and take up arms against the government.
“Isa ang kawalan ng hustisya sa mga karaniwang rason kaya lalong lumalakas ang loob ng iba na umanib sa mga makakaliwang grupo. Malakas kasi ang paniniwala nilang mas mahahatiran sila ng hustisya at mas mapangangalagaan ang kanilang karapatan sa pamamagitan ng pakikibaka (One of the main reasons why some bravely chose to join leftist groups is the absence of justice. They strongly believe that they can attain justice better and their rights can be protected through arm struggle),’’ he added.
Año pointed out that “a weak judicial system impedes progress and development as it will cause distrust and low confidence from investors, development partners, and private organizations who could provide wider and better opportunities for our fellowmen.’’
He pointed out that creating justice zones will better facilitate the issues and concerns of our constituents.
“In building a collaborative ground for law enforcement officers, prosecutors, defense attorneys, and judges to bring quality justice services, I am very optimistic that we are capable of doing so much more in our collective goal for the administration of justice,” Año maintained.
Becoming a model justice zone
Año said he commended the City Government of Balanga and the Provincial Government of Bataan for investing and starting an Integrated Agencies System, and building an eight-story building to house all national and local agencies operating in the province to make coordination easier.
He also cited the Province of Bataan for its efforts in linking all government agencies technologically, which will further contribute to making the City of Balanga as a “model Justice Zone.”
“Nakakatuwa ang Provincial Government of Bataan dahil sila mismo ang nag-reach out sa JSCC kung paano ma-establish ang Balanga City bilang Justice Zone. Sana’y lalo pang dumami ang Justice Zones sa bansa (The Province of Bataan is commendable since they reached out to the JSCC on how Balanga City can be established as a Justice Zone. I hope that the Justice Zones in the country will further increase). We hope to make a thing of the past the saying that a justice delayed is a justice denied,” Año noted.
The Justice Zone project, the showcase program of JSCC, adopts a coordinated or sector approach to satisfy the justice needs of people in real-time.
It was established to strengthen the coordination and cooperation between the three principal agencies of the JSCC for a prompt and fair administration of the justice system. (Chito A. Chavez)