Philippines

Philippines: Supreme Court, AFP tie up to build, repair justice courts for IDPs in Mindanao

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MANILA-Physical improvement for local courts serving internally-displaced communities in Southern Philippines is underway as a joint effort between the Supreme Court (SC) of the Philippines and the Armed Forces of the Philippines Corps of Engineers (AFPCOE) was recently forged to start construction and rehabilitation of Halls of Justice and Sharia'ah courts in areas previously affected by armed conflicts.
The Supreme Court and AFP recently signed for the first time a partnership agreement to construct and rehabilitate Halls of Justice and 6 Shari'ah Courts, especially for the Internally Displaced Persons (IDPs) in Malabang, Lanao del Sur; Jolo, Sulu; Marawi City; Cotabato City; Zamboanga City and Isabela, Basilan.

Signed at the Justices' Lounge of the Supreme Court, the MOA is an initiative under the Government of the Philippines and the European Commission through the United Nations Development Programme on Rehabilitating Internally Displaced Persons and Communities in Southern Philippines (IDP Programme).

Implemented under MEDCo, the IDP programme targets the rehabilitation and resettlement of at least 10,000 displaced families in 15 provinces in the Autonomous Region of Muslims Mindanao (ARMM) and non-ARMM regions.

As one of the implementing partner agencies, the Supreme Court handles the implementation of the IDP Programme's Culture of Peace and Access to Justice component, which seeks to strengthen the capacities and linkages between and among traditional, informal and formal justice systems, as well as provide an adequate venue in the administration of justice.

Under the said component is the implementation of infrastructure works, which includes the construction of the Hall of Justice in Malabang, Lanao del Sur; the extension of the annex building for the Shari'ah Court, as well as the rehabilitation and extension of Hall of Justice for Sharia'ah Court in Marawi City.

It also includes the repair and reconfiguration of annex building for Shari'ah Court and repair/rehabilitation of the Halls of Justice in Cotabato City, Zamboanga City and Isabela, Basilan.

To secure the implementation, the Supreme Court then sought the expertise and assistance of the AFPCOE, specifically the AFP Engineering Brigade, in implementing the said infrastructure projects.

Supreme Court Deputy Court Administrator Christopher O.Lock and Maj. General Eduardo J. Lena of AFP led the MOA signing ceremonies held at the Justices' Lounge of the Supreme Court. Defense Secretary Avelino J. Cruz, and Chief Justice Hilario G. Davide also witnessed the signing ceremonies.

"The building of the halls of justice, especially Shari'ah courts would actually be building the sanctuaries of peace because justice and peace go together. And when the moment justice and peace will kiss each other in Mindanao, especially in our Muslim communities, that kind of peace will reverberate throughout the land," Davide said.

The IDP Programme is a joint undertaking of Philippine Government through the Mindanao Economic Development Council (MEDCo) and the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) with the Autonomous Region of Muslim Mindanao (ARMM).

The programme carries out assistance pinned on three major components, such as relief assistance and confidence-building; rehabilitation; culture of peace and access to justice.

The programme also intends to improve the condition of IDPs through provision of core shelters, potable water, sanitation facilities, health and nutrition, quick-gestating livelihoods, peace literacy and psycho-social programs. MEDCo.