JSCC’s Balanga City Justice Zone Launches Bataan CARES
June 15, 2023
Supreme Court Associate Justice Maria Filomena D. Singh, Chairperson of the Justice Sector Coordinating Council (JSCC) Technical Working Group on Processes and Capacity Building, expresses the JSCC’s commitment to support the Bataan CARES initiative during its launch today, June 15, 2023, at the Atrium, The Bunker, Capitol Compound, Balanga City, Bataan. (Courtesy of the Supreme Court Public Information Office)
The Justice Sector Coordinating Council (JSCC)’s Balanga City Justice Zone (BCJZ) today launched the Bataan Collaborative Action for Rehabilitation, Empowerment and Support, or Bataan CARES, at the Atrium, The Bunker, Capitol Compound, Balanga City, Bataan.
Bataan CARES is a program of the BCJZ which will focus on the rehabilitation and reintegration in the society of drug offenders.
The launch was graced by government officials led by Supreme Court Associate Justice Maria Filomena D. Singh, who is the Chairperson of the JSCC Technical Working Group on Processes and Capacity Building.
Justice Singh conveyed the JSCC’s commitment to support the Bataan CARES initiative.
“We will give you all the support that we can…All three [JSCC] principals are committed to support this. Congratulations, and thank you for leading the way,” said Justice Singh, adding JSCC will make Bataan CARES the Council’s template for other Justice Zones.
The JSCC is composed of the Supreme Court, the Department of Justice (DOJ), and the Department of Interior and Local Government (DILG).
Launched on March 18, 2022, the BCJZ is the first Justice Zone to have been unveiled during the term of Chief Justice Alexander G. Gesmundo.
Executive Judge Marion Jacqueline P. Poblete of the Balanga City Regional Trial Court, as BCJZ convenor, shared how the Bataan CARES came about. She said that since its launch, the BCJZ has successfully identified concerns and problems areas within the City of Balanga, and has found that most of the cases filed in Court were drug-related cases, particularly violations of RA 9165, where the accused entered into plea bargaining and subsequently have applied for probation.
Judge Poblete revealed that most of the residents at the rehabilitation center were indigent residents of Balanga City, adding that 75% of the persons deprived of liberty were repeat offenders.
She said that the Bataan CARES program will focus on a holistic and effective drug rehabilitation program to curb the proliferation of illegal drugs within the community. It will tap the Barangay Anti-Drug Abuse Council and strengthen its capacity through trainings and familiarization with the legal and judicial process and various rehabilitation programs from different involved agencies.
Judge Poblete added that the Bataan CARES will provide effective inter-agency tools and programs from rehabilitation up to the re-integration of those in the “Persons Who Use Drugs” Program as productive and skilled members of the community. The Program advocates to treat drug addiction not a crime but a disease and that those who are afflicted must be helped and treated rather than jailed.
She further said that the BCJZ will prepare a Manual of the Bataan CARES to ensure continuity of the program even with any change in leadership.
Under Bataan CARES, those who will undergo drug rehabilitation will be initially subjected to 30-day confinement in rehabilitation centers, after which they will be immersed in community based programs in the succeeding months.
Balanga City Mayor Francis Anthony S. Garcia, Bataan Governor Jose Enrique S. Garcia III, and 2nd District Bataan Rep. Albert S. Garcia expressed their full support to the BCJZ’s Bataan CARES.
“We [referring to Gov. Garcia and Rep. Garcia] are commited to push this forward and we will see how can this be replicated in the other municipalities in our province,” said Mayor Garcia.
There was also a “Signing of Wall of Commitment” where the signatories signified their full commitment and support to all the programs of Bataan CARES. The signatories included local officials, judges, prosecutors, police and jail officers, as well as representatives from the Public Attorneys’ Office and the Integrated Bar of the Philippines.
Also present and who gave their response after the presentation of the Bataan CARES program were Assistant Court Administrator Lilian Baribal-Co, Assistant Health Secretary Dr. Beverly C. Ho, Dangerous Drugs Board Secretary Catalino S. Cuy, and Justice Sector Reform Program: Governance in Justice GOJUST II Team Leader and Senior Adviser Christian Eldon. (Courtesy of the Supreme Court Public Information Office)
Supreme Court Associate Justice Maria Filomena D. Singh, Chairperson of the Justice Sector Coordinating Council (JSCC) Technical Working Group on Processes and Capacity Building, says that the JSCC will make Bataan CARES a template for other Justice Zones. (Courtesy of the Supreme Court Public Information Office)