THE Department of the Interior and Local Government (DILG) congratulated and lauded the city of Balanga in Bataan for being established as the newest “justice zone” in the country as this will pave the way for closer coordination among the different justice sector agencies, ensure the swift and efficient delivery and administration of justice in the province.
“We are pleased that the City of Balanga has been formally launched as the newest justice zone in the country. Kaya naman sa pag-arangkada ng Balanga City Justice Zone, inaasahan natin ang mas mabilis at mas epektibong pagtugon at paglutas sa mga suliraning sanhi ng mabagal na pag-usad ng hustisya,” said DILG Secretary Eduardo M. Año.
Balanga is the eighth justice zone in the country. It is also the second to be launched amid the COVID-19 pandemic, following Calamba City in 2021.
The six other justice zones are Quezon City, Cebu City, Davao City, Angeles City, Bacolod City, and Naga City.
A locality is qualified to be a justice zone if it meets the “Justice Zone Components” checklist developed by the Justice Sector Coordinating Council (JSCC) composed of the Supreme Court (SC), Department of Justice (DOJ), and the DILG.
A minimum of 40 components, consisting of the elements of a criminal case from its start-up to adjudication to post-judgment incidents, must be present in the locality for it to be eligible.
During the launching held recently, Año said that justice zones will help address the issues that plague the justice system that provokes people “to turn to violence and overstep their boundaries–mainly out of disgruntlement to the slow wheels of justice.”
He said people who are deprived of justice are also easily convinced and duped by CTG (communist terrorist groups) to join their cause and take up arms against the government.
“Isa ang kawalan ng hustisya sa mga karaniwang rason kaya lalong lumalakas ang loob ng iba na umanib sa mga makakaliwang grupo. Malakas kasi ang paniniwala nilang mas mahahatiran sila ng hustisya at mas mapangangalagaan ang kanilang karapatan sa pamamagitan ng pakikibaka,” he said.
Moreover, Año said a weak judicial system impedes progress and development as it will cause distrust and low confidence from investors, development partners, and private organizations who could provide wider and better opportunities for Filipinos.
The DILG chief said the establishment of justice zones will better facilitate the issues and concerns of the constituents.
“In building a collaborative ground for law enforcement officers, prosecutors, defense attorneys, and judges to bring quality justice services, I am very optimistic that we are capable of doing so much more in our collective goal for the administration of justice,” Año said.
Año said he commends the City Government of Balanga and the Provincial Government of Bataan for investing and starting an Integrated Agencies System and building an eight-story building to house all national and local agencies operating in the province to make coordination easier.
He also cited the province of Bataan for its efforts in linking all government agencies technologically, which will further contribute to making the City of Balanga a “model Justice Zone.”
“Nakakatuwa ang Provincial Government of Bataan dahil sila mismo ang nag-reach out sa JSCC kung paano ma-establish ang Balanga City bilang Justice Zone. Sana’y lalo pang dumami ang Justice Zones sa bansa. We hope to make a thing of the past the saying that ‘a justice delayed is a justice denied’,” he added.
The Justice Zone project, the showcase program of JSCC, adopts a coordinated or sector approach to satisfy the justice needs of people in real-time. It is established to strengthen the coordination and cooperation between the three principal agencies of the JSCC for a prompt and fair administration of the justice system.
Also present during the launch were Chief Justice Alexander G. Gesmundo; Justice Secretary Menardo I. Guevarra; Supreme Court Associate Jose Midas P. Marquez; Court of Appeals (CA) Associate Justices Maria Filomena D. Singh, Jennifer Joy C. Ong, Michael P. Ong, and Jose Lorenzo dela Rosa; DILG Assistant Secretary Francisco R. Cruz; 2nd District Bataan Rep. Jose Enrique S. Garcia III; Deputy Court Administrator Jenny Lind A. Delorino; and SC Spokesperson Brian Keith F. Hosaka.