The European Union (EU), which is committed to supporting the reforms being pursued by the justice sector in the Philippines, has welcomed the establishment of this city as a “Justice Zone” by the Justice Sector Coordinating Council (JSCC).
Chargé d’Affaires of the European Union Delegation to the Philippines, Thomas Wiersing, Supreme Court (SC) Chief Justice Lucas P. Bersamin, Department of Justice (DOJ) Secretary Menardo I. Guevarra, and Department of the Interior and Local Government (DILG) Secretary Eduardo M. Año spearheaded the launch of the newest Justice Zone at the Naga City People’s Hall on Monday, September 30.
The JSCC, headed together by the SC, DOJ and DILG, named Naga City as a Justice Zone on the strength of its Joint Resolution No. 05-2019 signed on Aug. 15, 2019 in Manila.
Justice Zones are areas where local justice sector stakeholders which include the police, prosecutors, judges, public attorneys and managers of detention facilities, work together to identify and address cross-cutting challenges.
The selection of Naga City as the newest Justice Zone reflects its demonstration of converged justice sector reform efforts like jail and court decongestion, the implementation of an electronic court system, peace and order promotion, and efficient public service, among others. These reforms make Naga City ready to institutionalize speedier coordination among justice sector agencies.
The Governance in Justice (GOJUST) program of the European Union aims to facilitate increased communication, coordination, and cooperation in the Philippines’ justice sector. It also aids in the development and creation of Justice Zones. Realizing these, GOJUST backs JSCC at the national level and the rollout of the Justice Zone concept at the local level.
Naga City, was named the country’s 6th Justice Zone after Cebu, Davao, Angeles, and Bacolod cities. Quezon City was named as the Philippines’ first Justice Zone in 2014.
“The establishment of Naga City as the newest Justice Zone demonstrates how the justice sector in different parts of the country is committed to accelerating much-needed reforms. With Justice Zones across the country emerging fast, we hope that they can be a springboard for a more efficient justice system throughout the country,” Wiersing said.
“These achievements would not have been possible without the collective leadership and commitments of the Supreme Court, the DOJ, and the DILG,” he added.
Through an agreed structure and a two-way communication with the JSCC, piloting of new activities can take place within the Justice Zone. During the work planning of the Naga Justice Zone, stakeholders committed to work together to strengthen communication, coordination, and cooperation within and among criminal justice sector agencies.
Stakeholders also agreed to maximize the newly-approved guidelines on plea bargaining to get more drug users into rehabilitation instead of incarceration. (PNA)