By Franco Regala, April 12 2019; Manila Bulletin

Image Credit to Manila Bulletin

Committed to support the justice sector reform in the country, the European Union (EU) welcomed the establishment of Angeles City as a Justice Zone by the Justice Sector Coordinating Council (JSCC) during its launching Friday.

“The European Union remains committed to the Philippine Development Plan by supporting the Justice Sector Coordinating Council at the national level and the Justice Zone at the local level,” according to EU Ambassador Franz Jessen.

Jessen said the initiative was made possible through the leadership of Chief Justice Lucas P. Bersamin, Justice Secretary Menardo I. Guevarra and Interior and Local Government Secretary Eduardo M. Año.

Jessen was joined by Austrian Ambassador Bita Rasoulian, Belgian Ambassador Michel Goffin, Hungarian Ambassador József Bencze, Netherlands Ambassador Elizabeth De Lang, and Spanish Ambassador Jorge Moragas.
In a speech he delivered, Bersamin expressed elation that he is again part of the launching of fourth justice zone in the country. The first is Quezon City in November 2014; followed by Cebu City in October 2018 and Davao City last March.

“The success of the three justice zones in achieving coordination and cooperation among the pillars of justice encourages us all to look forward to more launches in the coming months,” he said.

A Justice Zone is an area where the police, the prosecutors, judges, public attorneys, and managers of detentions facilities, identify problems and arrive at common solutions.

The naming of Angeles City as a justice zone “signifies therefore that the vital justice service will henceforth be rendered more effective or more potent in the city by bringing together the creative capabilities of each agency of justice for the benefit of the public,” Bersamin said.

The establishment of the newest Justice Zone was on the basis of Joint Resolution 01-2019 signed last March 7 by the JSCC, jointly headed by the Supreme Court, the Department of Justice (DoJ) and the Department of the Interior and Local Government (DILG).

Angeles City was selected “because it has already pioneered justice sector reforms in the region. It is home to pilot projects such as eCourt, automated hearing, eSubpoena and e-Notice and is the site of a model Hall of Justice.”

During the work planning of the Angeles City Justice Zone, the members proposed to improve institutional case management by strengthening communication, coordination, and cooperation within and among criminal justice sector agencies, to enhance the capacity of criminal justice sector agencies through improved human resources, facilities and equipment, and to improve jail conditions through the paralegal program of the Bureau of Jail Management and Penology.

“We are confident that this event will spur similar efforts in other parts of the country on local justice coordination,” Jessen said.

The establishment of the new Justice Zone is supported by GOJUST, a three-and-a-half-year justice sector support programme funded by the EU.