DOJ breaks ground for new office building

The Department of Justice (DOJ) in Cebu will soon have a new home after the old Palace of Justice at the Capitol was rendered unsafe by the 2013 earthquake.

Its new home will rise on a 3,000-square-meter property donated by the Cebu Provincial Government located at the old compound, now vacated by the Department of Agriculture at M. Velez St, Guadalupe, Cebu City.

The 4-storey P100-million building designed by the highways department is just a stone’s throw away from the office of the Visayas Ombudsman.

Justice Secretary Manuel Caparas and Gov. Hilario Davide III led the groundbreaking rites attended by officials in the prosecution service in the region, province, and Cebu City as well as municipalities.

Davide looked forward to the day “nga masugdan na nilag tukod” (they will start building it). The deed of donation stipulates that the Justice Department should construct the building within three years.

The building will house the the offices of the prosecutors, witness protection program, Public Attorney’s Office, Parole and Probation Administration, and the courts.

The Regional Prosecutors Office, the Cebu Provincial Prosector’s Office, Cebu City Prosector’s Office, and the Public Attorney’s Office continue to stay in the old hall despite the danger and poor lighting and ventilation.

Endorsed by the Regional Development Council (RDC), the project also earned the nod of the Mines and Geo-Sciences Bureau.

Former Justice Secretary Benjamin Caguioa started the ball rolling for a new DOJ building in Cebu and later supported by his successor Caparas.

For Caparas, there’s always a promise of a silver lining after the 2013 quake and the new Palace of Justice is this silver lining.

He wants all those at DOJ to bear in mind why this is all happening, referring to having a new hall of justice.

“This is all happening because of everyone’s intention, everyone’s passion to serve the public the best way possible,” he said.

The spirit of public service, as Caparas called it, is the “spirit of honest to goodness public service”.

The old Palace of Justice is eyed for retrofitting or total overhaul so that the Capitol can make use of it for offices and spaces needed by the Cebu Provincial Government said Davide.

Just recently, Chief Justice Lourdes Sereno through her staff relayed to Davide the willingness of the Supreme Court to let go of the old Palace of Justice.

Davide assured leaders and members of the prosecution service of the province’s continued support.

During the groundbreaking, a time capsule was buried and in it were copies of the sketch plan, design of the building and pieces of coins for some luck.