MANILA, Philippines – The Manila Hall of Justice will have its new home by June 2022, a state of the art "green" building that will be in stark contrast to the capital's courts currently located in portions of the Manila City Hall.
Supreme Court (SC) Associate Justice Alexander Gesmundo, the committee chair, led the presentation of the project on Tuesday, October 22, alongside Acting Chief Justice Antonio Carpio.
During yearly budget hearings, lawmakers repreatedy pressed the implementation of the project, which is now 75% complete, according to Assistant Court Administrator (ACA) Maria Regina Adoracion Filomena Ignacio.
This means that the brainstorming is done and the final location has been identified – the old Government Service Insurance System (GSIS) Building in Arroceros.
The facade of the building will be preserved, but the rest will be built from scratch.
The construction and design will be bidded out in November, a process which would last roughly 6 months. Construction is slated to begin in June 2020.
“Following this, the construction phase is expected to last for a period of 24 months, which means that we can expect the completion of the Manilla Hall Of Justice (MHOJ) by June 2022," said Ignacio.
Court Administrator Midas Marquez said that the budget for the hall of justice is P2.8 billion, which will come from the judiciary's savings.
The SC said the hall of justice, consisting of interconnected buildings, are 'environment-friendly and green certified."
"The MHOJ is certified as the first green courthouse in the Philippines," it added.
It will have 120 courtrooms and 3 special courtrooms.
The High Court said that the hall of justice will have a Philippine mediation center, archives, records and evidence rooms, conference and meeting rooms, and prisoner holding rooms.
It will also house recreational facilities such as a multi-purpose basketball court and a fitness gym; a business center; library, medical clinic, and a caycare center.
Photo by SC PIO
Leaving city hall
"The Manila Hall of Justice never had its own permanent building. our judges and court employees have to make do with the limited spaces allocated to them in different spaces," Gesmundo said.
Currently, the Regional Trial Courts (RTC) are in the upper floors of the Manila City Hall, while the Metropolitan Trial Courts (MeTC) are in the old Ombudsman building, a separate building across the Light Rail Transit (LRT).
Courtrooms and hallways in both the RTCs and MeTCs are decrepit.
"Justice Antonio Carpio acknowledged this great problem, a quote of an article he wrote in 2012, when he lamented 'the City of Manila founded 440 years ago comprising more than a fourth of all the trial courts in Metro Manila, [and] still does not have a hall of justice today. It is really a shame that the capital city of the Republic does not have a hall of justice," said Gesmundo.
Putting a positive spin on it, the retiring Carpio quipped that "it is said that great buildings take time to plan and construct."
"It took the Colosseum of Rome 10 years just to construct, the Parthenon in Greece 17 years, St Peters Basilica in the Vatican 144 years, St Basil's Cathedral in Moscow 125 years and the Taj Mahal 21 years. We will soon add the Manila Hall of Justice to this illustrious list," said Carpio.
The Manila Hall of Justice has had 8 ground breaking events spanning presidencies, but earlier in a Senate budget hearing, Associate Justice Diosdado Peralta said this current project will finally realize the dream plan.
Retired chief justice Lucas Bersamin once shared how then Manila mayor Joseph Estrada had tried to evict them during his term, to make more space for city hall.
"Mayor Isko Moreno will be happy to know that the Manila HOJ will be the most modern and most beautiful HOJ in the Philippines befitting a HOJ for your capital city of Manila," said Carpio. – Rappler.com