MANILA—The European Union together with the Supreme Court, Department of Justice and Department of Interior and Local Government on Thursday launched the PHP850-million Governance in Justice (GOJUST) programme to help hasten the justice sector coordination and efficient delivery of criminal justice in the country.
Chief Justice Maria Lourdes Sereno, Justice Secretary Vitaliano Aguirre II and Interior Secretary Ismael “Mike” Sueno, as well as representatives from the EU, graced the launching at the Manila Hotel.
EU Ambassador Jessen said that the GOJUST programme hopes to increase the efficiency, effectiveness, and accountability of the country’s justice system.
In addition to the EU grant, the Spanish Government contributed some PHP105 million.
”As the Philippines moves towards middle income status, a properly functioning justice system will be essential for the business climate and to ensure the continuity of economic growth,” Jessen said.
He said that the GOJUST programme intends to strengthen the rule of law in the Philippines and ensure sustainability of programme interventions through recommendations for legislative, regulatory and procedural reforms in the criminal justice system.
GOJUST is innovative because it adopts a more process oriented and strategic approach. The programme supports the institutionalization of the Justice Sector Coordinating Council, the development of a long-term reform strategy and investment plan and the roll-out in eight new areas of the Justice Zone concept, as pioneered in Quezon City.
“The European Union is very happy to support the Philippine justice sector reform agenda. We believe that the GOJUST programme will greatly help in policy-making, decongesting and automating court dockets and in strengthening capacities of members of the justice sector,” Jessen stressed.
The GOJUST programme builds on the achievements of three prior EU projects that helped strengthen the pillars of justice in the Philippines, namely, “Improving Governance to Reduce Poverty: Access to Justice for the Poor” (2006 to 2008), “EU-Philippines Justice Support Programme (EPJUST)” (2009 to 2011) and EU- Philippines Justice Support Programme II (EPJUST II) (2012 – 2016)
Meanwhile, the new EU programme has four components namely:
The first component is the strengthening and institutionalization of the JSCC as a permanent coordinating and policy-making body at the national level. This will ensure complimentarily and compatibility of reform measures of the different justice sector agencies.
The second component will focus on improving delivery of justice by decongesting 160 courts and 100 prosecution offices; the development and roll-out of electronic case management systems; and the streamlining of case management systems.
The third component will strengthen court administration, human resource management, financial management, and high level performance management of the judiciary and the Department of Justice.
The fourth component, being implemented by the Spanish Agency for International Development Cooperation (AECID), will strengthen national/regional human rights institutions’ and CSOs’ capacity to promote accountability and fight impunity for major human rights violations.
Sereno expressed gratitude to the GOJUST for supporting the SC on decongesting courts as well in upgrading the management information office.
”We are thankful to GOJUST that they are supporting decongesting initiatives, especially in 60 courts in Region IV-A and we thank you for your support in upgrading of our management information office,” Sereno said in her message during the European Union justice program event at the Manila Hotel.
Sereno underscored the need for sectoral responsibility as it takes more than one agency to deliver justice alone.
”We need the help of each other to make justice come alive. Let us not fail our people,” the Chief Justice noted.
”If we are really going to succeed in supporting the reforms of the justice sector, we must be willing to say that we are jointly accountable to our people. The judiciary will not fail our people in this regard…I have been reaching out to my brothers and sisters in the DOJ, the DILG, and their attached agencies including the Philippine National Police to join us, we must keep in step with each other,” Sereno added.