EU Head of Cooperation, Christoph Wagner joined Chief Justice Alexander G. Gesmundo and the Justices of the Supreme Court in a mudball event - where tennis sized balls made from effective microorganisms (EM) that control ammonia levels in the water were thrown in the ocean. They help address pollution in damaged sea grounds. Photo courtesy of SC PMO.
Puerto Princesa, 10 Nov 2023 – The EU, through its Governance in Justice programme (GOJUST), is supporting the planning and development of a new Justice Zone in Puerto Princesa City. Justice Zones are areas where local justice sector actors such as police, prosecutors, public attorneys, and judges work together to identify common problems and generate common solutions.
Christoph Wagner, Head of Cooperation of the EU Delegation to the Philippines, joined Chief Justice Alexander G. Gesmundo, Department of Justice (DOJ) Secretary Jesus Crispin C. Remulla, and Department of Interior and Local Government (DILG) Secretary Benjamin C. Abalos, Jr. — the key actors of the Justice Sector Coordination Council (JSCC) — for the launch of the Puerto Princesa City Justice Zone at the Hue Hotel, Puerto Princesa City.
“The European Union has been a committed partner to the Philippine’s Justice Sector since 2006 and supported justice zones since 2014. We are particularly glad to be able to support this new Justice Zone in Puerto Princesa - a great initiative by the Supreme Court and the national and local Government actors. By bringing all the stakeholders together in an inclusive manner, it will enhance the rule of law so to safeguard the precious natural ecosystems and biodiversity in Palawan. This new initiative also complements the EU’s ongoing support towards the Philippines transition to a green economy and the mitigation of and adaptation to climate change in the country”, said Christoph Wagner, Head of Cooperation of the EU Delegation to the Philippines.
Puerto Princesa is the third justice zone — after Zamboanga City and Tagaytay City — with a thematic focus: envisioned as the first ever “Green Justice Zone”. It will showcase national-local government collaboration for efficient and effective delivery of justice in environmental protection and natural resource management. The Justice Zone, supported by the European Union and the JSCC, is designed to enhance communication, coordination and cooperation between government agencies and non-government organizations to ensure swift and fair administration of justice.
Since 2014, Justice sector coordination has aimed to improve efficiency in the administration of criminal justice by ensuring that all agencies and institutions involved work together effectively. Puerto Princesa will be the 12th Justice Zone to be launched, joining Quezon City, Cebu, Angeles, Davao, Bacolod, Naga, Calamba, Balanga, Baguio, Zamboanga and Tagaytay. The recently approved Philippine Development Plan (PDP) 2023-2028 has endorsed the coordination policy as a way to improve the sector’s efficiency and accountability and to bring about long term sustainable reforms. According to the PDP, 4 new justice zones will be launched every year during the Plan’s period.
With a total grant of EUR19 million (Php 1.1 billion) over a period of four years, the EU’s GOJUST programme supports the Government of the Republic of the Philippines’ efforts to improve access to justice for all Filipinos, and thus, contribute to inclusive and sustainable socio-economic development.
GOJUST works with the Philippine Supreme Court, the Department of Justice, and the Department of the Interior and Local Government to develop more responsive and accountable justice services in the country. Through a grants facility, the Programme works with universities and civil society organizations in improving access to justice for women, LGBTQI+, indigenous communities and other vulnerable groups.
In addition, GOJUST aims to strengthen the Commission on Human Rights to help it carry out its constitutional mandate of civil and political rights protection and enhance human rights promotion in the Philippines. This component is co-funded with the Spanish Agency for Development Cooperation (AECID), with an additional EUR 1 million (Php 59.47 million).
Mario Villamor, Email: Mariovi@unops.org
Thelma Gecolea, Email: Thelma.GECOLEA@eeas.europa.eu