Where’s budget for feasibility study for new Palace of Justice?
Cebu City may have to wait a long time before it has a new Palace of Justice.
Judge Geraldine Faith Econg, head of the Supreme Court’s (SC) Program Management Office, said the Supreme Court has no budget to fund a feasibility study for the project.
“They’re saying ‘we want it here, we want it there.’ But what’s their basis in saying that? I’d rather make a decision based on the result of the feasibility study which I believe will bring about an intelligent choice,” she said.
Econg said the High Court earlier requested the Department of Budget and Management (DBM) to include in its 2015 budget proposal to the Senate a P500 million outlay to fund the feasibility study.
But the DBM dropped the SC’s proposed budget, she said.
“The doors are not closed yet. The Supreme Court is trying hard to have the P500 million proposed budget included in the bicameral conference committee,” Econg said.
The estimated cost for a new Palace of Justice is pegged at P1 billion. Senate President Franklin Drilon earlier vowed to help press for funding to build a new courthouse in Cebu City.
But he said only half of the P1 billion needed for the project can be considered in next year’s national budget.
In the meantime, Econg said judges and court employees in Cebu City have to hold office at Qimonda I.T. Center at the North Reclamation Area.
The High Court is paying a monthly rental of P1.2 million to stay there.
The SC released P36 million to build partitioned courtrooms on the third and fourth floors of Qimonda I.T. Center.
Econg said the SC is considering to build the new Palace of Justice at a lot donated by the Cebu City government to the Court of Appeals Cebu Station at the South Road Properties (SRP).
But the Cebu provincial government has offered a bigger lot inside the Department of Agriculture compound in barangay Guadalupe, Cebu City.
She said the High Court is weighing its options. but may still choose another site.
“Before making a final decision as to where the new Palace of Justice will be constructed, there are many things to be considered like accessibility, safety, and even traffic conditions,” Econg said.
“For now, Cebu City judges, prosecutors, lawyers, employees and court users have to remain in Qimonda. I know they are inconvenienced. But nobody wanted this; nobody wanted the earthquake to happen,” she added.
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