The European Union (EU), in its commitment to support justice sector reform in the Philippines, welcomed the establishment of Bacolod City and Naga City as a Justice Zone by the Justice Sector Coordinating Council (JSCC).
The JSCC, jointly headed by the Supreme Court, the Department of Justice (DoJ) and the Department of the Interior and Local Government (DILG), named Bacolod City and Naga City as a Justice Zones on the basis of JSCC Joint Resolution 05-2019 signed on this year at the Principals’ Meeting in Manila City.
Chargé d’Affaires, a.i. of the EU Delegation to the Philippines, Thomas Wiersing, Chief Justice Lucas Bersamin, Justice Secretary Menardo Guevarra and DILG Secretary Eduardo Año spearheaded the launch of the newest Justice Zones.
Justice Zones are areas where local justice sector stakeholders as the police, prosecutors, judges, public attorneys and managers of detentions facilities work together to identify and address crosscutting challenges.
The selection of the two newest Justice Zones reflect the city’s 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 the two cities ready to institutionalize speedier coordination among justice sector agencies.
The European Union’s Governance in Justice (GOJUST) Programme, which aims to facilitate increased communication, coordination and cooperation in the justice sector in the Philippines, aids in the development and creation of justice zones. To do this, GOJUST backs the JSCC at the national level and the rollout of the Justice Zone concept at the local level.
“The establishment of the newest Justice Zones 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,” Chargé d’Affaires Thomas Wiersing said.
These achievements would not have been possible without the collective leadership and commitments of the Supreme Court, the DoJ and DILG.”
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 have 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.