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Rough Cuts | A dream realization evolving

We join the elation of the people of the City Prosecutors’ Office in Davao City on the realization of their dream to finally have their own office building.

This developed as the groundbreaking ceremony for the building construction was done early this week. The edifice, according to City Prosecutor Nestor Ledesma, is a 6-storey structure that has a budget of over a hundred million pesos. It will house the offices of the 42 city prosecutors as well as the various administrative and operational staff. And we have no doubt that it will also include a facility that will serve as depository of documents related to cases filed and disposed of. The new office building will rise just beside the existing Hall of Justice located adjacent the City Overland Transport Terminal at Ecoland.

Yes, we could sense in the face of City Prosecutor Ledesma his happiness that after several decades his team will finally have a building of its own.
For now the offices of the city prosecutors are sharing with the different branches of the regional, city and municipal trial courts serving the constituents of Davao City in the already over-crowded Hall of Justice building. So over-crowded is the structure that while it is the primary symbol of the fair dispensation of justice, it is in itself a monument of injustice. And sadly, it is not so much to those seeking justice but for the people in government tasked to efficiently dispense justice – the prosecutors and judges.

Isn’t it injustice for judges, prosecutors and other staff to be working under non-conducive environment due to so many distractions and hardly enough spaces to do things that require better thinking concentration? Isn’t it injustice for the prosecutors to find themselves unable to effectively work out amicable settlements of cases when any Tom, Dick and Harry can hear what each party to a potential out-of-court settlement may say or demand as condition?

Moreover, is it not clear injustice to the City Prosecution Office itself when case folders are already dumped along hallways because of lack of secured and safe depository rooms?

Of course, those folders we saw during our last visit at the Hall of Justice building could be those of disposed of cases. But who would know that one day there may be need to retrieve those folders for some new developments of the case or cases involved therein?

So, it indeed is a milestone for the City Prosecution to finally have its own building to house everything relative to the effective delivery of its services.
What we are looking forward next is the computerization of case files along with the computerization of the said agency’s operating processes.

This however, is one nebulous dream that is a very long shot. But this is not totally impossible to do. After all, to dream is free; so better to dream big than not to dream at all.

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After the initial hard push for the Charter amendment during the first two years of the Duterte administration we noticed a slow and intriguing lull in the campaign for the constitutional change. And by then we already started entertaining the idea that the present government is not anymore pursuing the plan.

Honestly we are for the amendment of the 1987 Constitution of the Philippines. And we support Federalism as the form of government that will be adopted under the new charter. We also hope that the election of the President and Vice President will be similar to that of the United States. That is, that the two top officials are elected as a team.

The heat of our desire for such an arrangement in the government should the charter change be pursued has been rekindled due to two similar yet totally opposite activities of the two highest officials of the Philippines. And these were the visits of President Rodrigo Duterte and Vice President Leni Robredo in two separate evacuation centers of the thousands of victims of the Taal volcano eruption in Batangas Province.

They did the same thing except that the President had a lot more to do since he called for a situation briefing, distribute cash assistance direct to the victims in the evacuation camp that the President visited, released financial assistance to the local government units affected by the volcano eruption, and of course issued various directives based on the powers vested on the Presidency in times of emergency.

In the case of VP Robredo the most that she was able to do was distribute food packs and gave the victims her personal commiseration on their plight. That of course is understandable because her office does not have as much resources as that of the President’s.

But we believe that such starkly contrasting sights in a very critical emergency situation could have been avoided had the VP subordinated her responsibilities as member of the opposition and corroborated with the administration as a way of returning the trust bestowed by the people who voted for her during the 2016 election.

And clearly, she was given the opportunity not once but twice. First when she was appointed head of the government’s national housing agency; and second, only recently, as the anti-illegal drugs czar.

But in both opportunities she opted to blow it off. As cabinet member she swore to work with the administration team. But at the same time, she joined her opposition group in haranguing what her team was doing.

As anti-illegal drug czar, she told television commentator Winnie Monsod she wanted to solve the country’s drug problem based on what she personally sees and believes its actual situation. She was already doing a lot of consultations with various organizations even before seeking a consensus of her idea of the problem from the members of the team she was supposed to co-chair. In other words, she wants to approach the problem on a “My way” basis and not on an “Our way” scheme.

Simply put, the VP is not a team player. Is not that dangerous?

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