Celso extols ‘Justice on Wheels’ program PDF Print E-mail
Friday, 03 June 2011 16:59

Mayor Celso Lobregat has underscored the importance of the Justice on Wheels program, a Supreme Court initiative aimed to improve accessibility to the justice system by poor litigants, as he expressed elation over the arrival of the mobile courts in the city yesterday.

“I am immensely delighted that these “Justice on Wheels” buses have finally arrived in the city because I know many respondents from the city and neighboring provinces and municipalities can benefit from the program”, Mayor Lobregat said as he welcomed to Zamboanga representatives from the Supreme Court headed by Court Administrator Jose Midas Marquez during the launching program at the Justice Hall in Sta. Barbara.

In an ideal society, he said, all people have equal rights and equal access to justice but in reality not everyone is created equal. “Justice may be for all, but not everyone has access to it. Poor litigants are the ones most deprived of their rights because of their financial limitations to post bail, settle their cases or avail of legal services.”

The mayor mentioned about delays in trials of incarcerated individuals allegedly involved in criminal cases, which he said leads to overcrowding of prison cells and rising peace and order problems as some aggrieved parties are tempted to put the law into their own hands. 

“With the Enhanced Justice on Wheels program, the Judiciary is starting to correct the public’s impression of the court’s seemingly slow judicial process. Zamboanga City and the other parts of the region share in the back log of cases now pending in the Regional and Municipal Trial Courts”, he said, adding that the program is “definitely a laudable approach that shows the judiciary’s seriousness in finding urgent solutions to challenges for the best interest of our country”.

For his part, Court Administrator Marquez expressed appreciation to Mayor Lobregat for extending his all out support to the launching of the Justice on wheels and the increasing access to Justice by the Poor program in Zamboanga City.
Since its launching two years ago, the EJOW program has caused the release over 5,000 prisoners and the settlement of over 5,000 civil cases nationwide, according to Marquez.

The program has five components: jail decongestion program through court hearings and mediations; jail visitation, medical, dental and legal aid program; information dissemination for barangay officials; dialogue between Supreme Court officials and judges and the team building program for the Court employees.
All the five programs were simultaneously held yesterday that saw Mayor Lobregat and Court Administrator Marquez shuttling from one venue to the other to supervise the activities.

The court hearings and mobile court-annexed mediation were held at the Hall of Justice complex and the Sta. Barbara road stretching from the gate of the Sta. Barbara Elementary School to the entrance to Plaza Pilar were closed to traffic to ensure a hassle-free activity.

Two buses used as mobile court arrived in the city yesterday. The mobile court is custom-built to efficiently serve its functions. It is divided into two main sections: the front section serves as the courtroom, while the rear section serves as the mediation room. It is fully air-conditioned and equipped with amenities for the judge, the court personnel, the litigants and their lawyers.

The Justice on Wheels program was participated by the Regional Trial Courts and Municipal Courts for Cities under the jurisdictions of  Zamboanga City, Ipil in Zamboanga Sibugay and Imelda in Zamboanga Sibugay.

Accompanying Marquez to Zamboanga were Deputy Court Administrators Nimfa Vilches and Raul Villanueva and Prosecutor Liza Flores.
Regional Trial Court Executive Judge Reynerio Estacio spearheaded the preparations for the launching of the EJOW program here yesterday. — Sheila Covarrubias