Tagaytay, 28 June 2023 – The EU, through its Governance in Justice programme (GOJUST), is supporting the planning and development of a new Justice Zone in Tagaytay City. Justice Zones are areas where local justice sector actors such as police, 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 Supreme Court Associate Justice Maria Filomena D. Singh, Department of Justice (DOJ) Undersecretary Raul T. Vasquez, and Department of Interior and Local Government (DILG) Undersecretary Lord A. Villanueva - the key actors of the Justice Sector Coordination Council (JSCC)- for the launch of the Tagaytay City Justice Zone at the Taal Vista Hotel, Tagaytay City.
“The European Union has been a committed partner to the Philippine’s Justice Sector since 2006, and has been involved in justice sector coordination since its early stages. We have supported the creation of justice zones since 2014 and are honoured to continue our support to this policy that puts people at the center of justice reform efforts, by bringing all justice actors at the local level together to tackle the sector’s challenges. Today, we are proud to see the launching of yet a new Justice Zone in Tagaytay City”, said Christoph Wagner, Head of Cooperation of the EU Delegation to the Philippines.
Tagaytay’s is the second justice zone — after Zamboanga City — with a thematic focus: economic development and tourism. Tagaytay is the most popular tourist destination near Metro Manila. City authorities see the setting up of this justice zone as a means to help the city’s economic development by addressing criminal justice issues. This could include fast tracking cases of a criminal nature involving tourists, establishing a Tourist Police Unit and Foreign Information and Assistance Desk in key tourist spots. The Justice Zone, supported by the European Union and the JSCC, is designed to enhance the communication, coordination and cooperation between government agencies and non-government organizations to ensure the swift and fair administration of justice.
Since 2014, Justice sector coordination aims to improve efficiency in the administration of criminal justice by ensuring that all agencies and institutions involved work together effectively. Tagaytay City will be the 11th Justice Zone to be launched, joining Quezon City, Cebu, Angeles, Davao, Bacolod, Naga, Calamba, Balanga, Baguio, Zamboanga. 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
Photo by the Supreme Court Public Information Office