Tuesday, January 14, 2014

Cebu City Tents of Justice

The October 2013 quake practically destroyed the Marcelo Fernan Palace of Justice in Cebu City. From a non-structural engineer's point of view, the building looks relatively okay, save perhaps for the fourth floor which sustained what seems to be massive damage when the corbels and beams broke. Nearly three months have passed and our courts still do not have a decent place to hold hearings.

The Regional Trial Courts as well as the Municipal Trial Courts in Cities are holding office in tents at the back of the Palace of Justice as well as in the Cebu Capitol Building parking lot. We all know that this is but a temporary affair, but for how long? In December 2013, the Supreme Court stated that the occupants of the Palace of Justice are to relocate to the Qimonda IT Center near the port area but sadly, there are no developments as regards the move.

Now that the rainy season has come, holding hearings inside a Tent is becoming more untenable with each passing day and with each drop of rain; not only does it cause more delays (think leaking tent, wet documents, cramped spaces, vehicular noise, humidity, radiant heat, flies, mosquitoes), most of the areas where the tents are situated would be flooded.

I personally don't think that the Courts will be moving to Qimonda IT Center soon. Why? In December 2013, the RTC-OCC announced that they would not be receiving notarial reports since they have no place to stockpile them, then suddenly during the middle part of the month, that order was recalled. Obviously, where will they stash the notarial reports? At the Marcelo Fernan Palace of Justice. I've been inside the RTC-OCC inside the Palace of Justice and it's clear that they are still using the building to stockpile the notarial reports. Using that as a gauge, I cannot possibly see the probability that the courts will be transferring soon. It just does not make any sense if documents are still in the Palace while hearings and other court transactions are being conducted at some other location.

Be that as it may, the court employees have major concerns with the building where the courts would supposedly move in to which have not yet been addressed. Up to now, there are no updates as to when we will finally have decent court rooms. I wonder when, or if ever. So, in the meantime, we shall have to be content with our TENTS of JUSTICE.

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