Davao City Declared As The Newest Justice Zone By The EU-Supported GOJUST Programme

The European Union, in its commitment to support justice sector reform in the Philippines, welcomed the establishment of Davao City as a Justice Zone by the Justice Sector Coordinating Council (JSCC) today, March 14, 2019, at the Davao City Hall of Justice.

The initiative was led by Local Government Secretary Eduardo M. Año; Justice Secretary Menardo I. Guevarra; European Union Ambassador Franz Jessen, and Supreme Court of the Philippines Chief Justice Lucas P. Bersamin.

The Justice Sector Coordination Council (JSCC), jointly headed by the Supreme Court, the Department of Justice and the Department of the Interior and Local Government, launched Davao City as a Justice Zone on the basis of Joint Resolution 01-2019, signed on March 7, 2019 at the Principals’ Meeting in Manila City.

The selection of Davao City as the newest Justice Zone is reflective of the city’s demonstration of convergence for justice sector reform efforts like jail decongestion and court decongestion initiatives, electronic Courts, initiatives to strengthen peace and order and efficiency in public service among others, making it ready to institutionalize coordination among justice sector agencies.

The Justice Zone is an area where local justice sector agencies such as the police, the prosecutors, judges, public attorneys, and managers of detentions facilities, identify common problems and arrive at common solutions to address them.

Through an agreed structure and through two-way communication with the JSCC, piloting of new activities can take place within the Justice Zone. During the work planning of the Davao Justice Zone, the stakeholders have proposed to strengthen the communication, coordination, and cooperation within and among criminal justice sector agencies and their stakeholders and also to maximize the newly approved guidelines on plea bargaining so that more drug users can go into rehabilitation instead of incarceration, among others.

Davao City is the third Justice Zone – and the first in the Mindanao region, to be created under the EU-supported JSCC. The first justice zone was launched in Quezon City in 2014 and continues to be an effective mechanism and platform for improved communication, coordination and cooperation among justice sector agencies in the area. The EU also supported the establishment of the Cebu City Justice Zone in 2018 through the Governance in Justice (GOJUST) Programme.

“I am therefore very encouraged that the Justice Sector Coordinating Council at the national level and the Justice Zone at the local level serve as the mechanisms for bringing about long term and sustainable reforms in the area of justice, said EU Ambassador Jessen. This initiative has been made possible under the collective leadership of Chief Justice Lucas P. Bersamin, Justice Secretary Menardo I. Guevarra and DILG Secretary Eduardo M. Año. We are confident that this event will spur similar efforts in other parts of the country on local justice coordination”.

The launch was supported by the GOJUST programme. The programme facilitates 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 reform agenda.

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