JSCC Launches First Economic Development and Tourism Justice Zone in Tagaytay City
July 3, 2023
The Justice Sector Coordinating Council, represented by Supreme Court Associate Justice Maria Filomena D. Singh (center), Department of Justice Underscretary Raul T. Vasquez (second from left), Department of the Interior and Local Government Undersecretary Lord A. Villanueva, are joined by (from left) Tagaytay City Regional Trial Court Executive Judge Michael C. Maranan, Senator Francis N. Tolentino, Tagaytay City Mayor Abraham N. Tolentino, and European Union Delegation to the Philippines – Head of Cooperation Christoph Wagner at the launch of the Tagaytay City Justice Zone at Taal Vista Hotel on June 28, 2023.
“Sa Lungsod ng Tagaytay Turismo ay Buhay. Hustisya ay Kaagapay.”
Guided by this theme, the Justice Sector Coordinating Council (JSCC), composed of the Supreme Court of the Philippines, the Department of Justice (DOJ), and the Department of the Interior and Local Government (DILG), launched the Tagaytay City Justice Zone at the Taal Vista Hotel in Tagaytay City on June 28, 2023.
Supreme Court Associate Justice Maria Filomena D. Singh, DOJ Underscretary and Officer-in-Charge Raul T. Vasquez, and DILG Undersecretary for Operations Lord A. Villanueva represented the Principals of the JSCC in introducing the country’s second “specialty Justice Zone,” following the launch of the “first ever trafficking-free Justice Zone” in Zamboanga City last February.
The Tagaytay City Justice Zone is set to focus on economic development and tourism, with the objective of ushering in swift, efficient, and effective administration of justice in Tagaytay City. that is accessible to all. This, in turn, is projected to attract tourists and investors which will further improve the City’s economic importance.
Speaking for the Supreme Court, Justice Singh shared that Tagaytay City presented to the JSCC “an ideal site for the first ever Economic Tourism Justice Zone to show the Justice Sector’s commitment to the priority agenda of the administration of President Ferdinand Marcos, Jr., as embodied in the [Philippine Development Plan] for 2023-2028, and that is economic revitalization.” Emphasizing that the cost of doing business in the country depends on how reliable and fair the Justice Sector actors deliver their services, Justice Singh said: “Clearly, if the economy is to flourish, the rule of law must be its anchor and we can only realize that with efficient, responsive, and real-time justice service delivery.”
Justice Singh shared with those present the key features of the Strategic Plan for Judicial Innovations for 2022-2027 (SPJI), which is the Supreme Court’s collective vision of the Judiciary’s direction in the coming years. She concluded: “We want to show the rest of the country and the world at large that the economic viability of a locality is better assured by a vibrant and fully functioning regime of the rule of law.”
DOJ Undersecretary Vasquez shared updates as regards the recent DOJ issuances which focus on closer cooperation and coordination in the matter of case build-up between law enforcement and prosecution, such as DOJ Department Circular No. 20, or the Policy on Pro-active Involvement of Prosecutors in Case Build-Up, and DOJ Office Order No. 0357, which outlines the Guidelines in the Implementation of Department Circular No. 20. He said that these issuances were expected to strengthen the alliance and cooperation between the prosecutors and the police.
Undersecretary Vasquez likewise disclosed that in furtherance of the DOJ’s efforts to decongest the country’s jails, the Department has, from July 2022 to June 27, 2023, released a total of 6,867 persons deprived of liberty (PDLs), with more on the way. “Rest assured that this trend will continue over the years, if not grow exponentially, as we expedite our efforts to ensure that no Filipino is denied his freedom a second longer than what is due,” he said.
DILG Undersecretary Villanueva, for his part, shared that the DILG has been implementing four key projects under the EU’s Justice Programme: Governance in Justice (GOJUST ) II from 2020 until this year. These are the: (1) Safe, Fair-Environment and Responsive Barangays for Women or SAFER Women; (2) Enhancement of Local Government Capacities in Delivering Justice Services for Children at Risk (CAR) and Children in Conflict with the Law (CICL); (3) Child-Friendly, Gender-Responsive and Indigenous People’s Relevant Katarungang Pambarangay; and (4) Professionalizing the Barangay Tanods as Agents of Peace and Development (Crime Scene Evidence Preservation).
“Through these projects, we hope to capacitate and empower our barangays in addressing gender-based issues, protecting the rights and welfare of vulnerable sectors, and maintaining peace and order,” said Undersecretary Villanueva. He concluded by assuring those present of the support and commitment of the whole DILG, including the Philippine National Police and the Bureau of Jail Management and Penology, to a fair and judicious dispensation of justice.
Tagaytay City Mayor Abraham N. Tolentino delivered the welcome remarks while Senator Francis N. Tolentino, who served as mayor of Tagaytay City from 1995 to 2004, conveyed his message of support for the JSCC and the Justice Zone project. Mr. Christoph Wagner, Head of Cooperation of the European Union (EU) Delegation to the Philippines, delivered a message from the EU, and Tagaytay City Regional Trial Court Executive Judge Michael C. Maranan conveyed the full support of the Tagaytay City Justice Sector to the Tagaytay City Justice Zone Program, expressing that the sector commits “to faithfully performing the task entrusted to us so that access to justice would be enhanced and made available to the people, especially the marginalized and vulnerable members of the community.”
Also present during the launch were Supreme Court Associate Justices Amy C. Lazaro-Javier, Mario V. Lopez, and Jose Midas P. Marquez; Court of Appeals Associate Justices Ronaldo Roberto B. Martin, Jennifer Joy C. Ong, Jaime Fortunato A. Caringal, and Rex Bernardo L. Pascual; and Sandiganbayan Associate Justices Michael Frederick L. Musngi, Maria Teresa V. Mendoza-Arcega, Karl B. Miranda, and Bernelito R. Fernandez.
Joining them were Court Administrator Raul B. Villanueva, Deputy Clerk of Court and Judicial Reform Program Administrator Atty. Laura C.H. Del Rosario, and Deputy Clerk of Court and Chief Technology Officer Atty. Jed Sherwin G. Uy.
Supported by the JSCC in partnership with the GOJUST II and the local government of Tagaytay City, the Tagaytay City Justice Zone project is the product of the preparatory activities undertaken by the JSCC through its Technical Working Group on Processes and Capacity Building to assess the viability of the city as the next Justice Zone. It is the 11th Justice Zone to be launched, following those in Quezon City, Cebu City, Davao City, Angeles City, Bacolod City, Naga City, Calamba City, Balanga City, Baguio City, and Zamboanga City. (Courtesy of the Supreme Court Public Information Office.
The representatives of the Judiciary, the DOJ, the DILG, and the City of Tagaytay commit to support the Justice Sector Coordinating Council through the Tagaytay City Justice Zone and its efforts to improve communication, cooperation and coordination among local justice sector actors by signing the “Wall of Commitment” at the launch of the Tagaytay City Justice Zone on June 28, 2023.