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Rough Cuts | A dream endangered by COVID-19

We remember our having joined the elation of the employees of the City Prosecutors’ Office as well as the residents of Davao City during the ground breaking ceremony for the construction of its own building last January.

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 those of 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 by the CPO. The new office building is to be located beside the existing Hall of Justice adjacent the City Overland Transport Terminal at Ecoland.

Yes, during the ground-breaking rites 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 and the different branches of the regional, city and municipal trial courts serving the constituents of Davao City share in 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 we are told that the files are well-arranged by folders and dates. But the reality is that these are placed inside sacks that could easily be intentionally destroyed if certain parties want to for reasons of their own.

Of course, the folders we saw during our last visit at the Hall of Justice building could be those of disposed 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 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.
As we look forward to the building completion we could not help but think, rather advance, the possible full computerization of case files along with the said agency’s operating processes.

But we admit that this is one nebulous dream that remains still a 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.

But even as the contractor of the CPO building may just have pile-driven the first few posts, or perhaps poured the initial cubic meters of concrete for the building’s foundation the deadly Corona Virus Disease 2029 comes.

The disease, which is now on a pandemic category, has derailed the finances of the national government. And even if the budget for the construction of the building is lodged with the Department of Justice there is that possibility that the project could be put on hold.

As the President has repeatedly said in his report to the people, his primary concern now is the health of the Filipinos. And even if he has to realign budgets of lesser priority projects, he has to just to be able to extend assistance to the suffering masses adversely affected by CoViD 19.

But we are one in prayer with the prosecutors and their staff that the fund for their building project will remain and not part of the realignment that the President has in mind.

We believe a spacious CPO building is now an urgent need for Davao City

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