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EU-Backed GOJUST Programme Hails Bacolod As Newest Justice Zone

EU-Backed GOJUST Programme Hails Bacolod As Newest Justice Zone

The European Union (EU), in its commitment to support justice sector reform in the Philippines, welcomed the establishment of Bacolod 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 as a Justice Zone on the basis of JSCC Joint Resolution No. 05-2019 signed on August 15, 2019 at the Principals’ Meeting in Manila City.

Representatives from the European Union, DILG Secretary Eduardo M. Año, Justice Secretary Menardo I. Guevarra, and Chief Justice Lucas P. Bersamin spearheaded the launch of the newest Justice Zone at the Bacolod City New Government Center.

Justice Zones are areas where local justice sector agencies such as the police, prosecutors, judges, public attorneys, and managers of detentions facilities showed outstanding coordination in identifying and addressing common challenges.

The selection of Bacolod City as the newest Justice Zone reflects 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 Bacolod City ready to institutionalize speedier coordination among justice sector agencies.

The launch was supported by the Governance in Justice (GOJUST) programme, which aims to facilitate increased communication, coordination and cooperation in the justice sector. To do this, the GOJUST programme taps JSCC at the national level and the roll out of the Justice Zone concept at the local level.

“The establishment of Bacolod City as the newest Justice Zone shows that the Philippines is making strides to bring about much-needed reforms in its justice system. By fostering cooperation between the Justice Sector Coordinating Council at the national level and the Justice Zone at the local level, we look forward to seeing more reforms on local justice coordination nationwide,” said EU Head of Cooperation Enrico Strampelli. “We are also grateful for the collective leadership of Chief Justice Lucas P. Bersamin, Justice Secretary Menardo I. Guevarra and DILG Secretary Eduardo M. Año for their commitment to advance this country’s justice reform agenda.”

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 Bacolod Justice Zone, stakeholders have proposed to strengthen the 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.

Bacolod City is the fifth Justice Zone in the Philippines, with the first being Quezon City – which was launched in 2014, followed by Cebu City in 2018. Other Justice Zones include Davao and Angeles City, which were both launched in the first half of 2019.

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