SC to build ‘green’ courts

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Friday, May 30, 2014


AN environment-friendly judicial complex will be built either at the South Road Properties or in downtown Cebu City to house the Court of Appeals and lower courts, a Supreme Court (SC) official said yesterday.

“We want to have a climate-proof building. We have also to consider the environment so we want to build a green courthouse,” said Court Administrator Midas Marquez, adding that a budget has been allocated for the construction of the building.

Marquez revealed this development to reporters after his talk at the third edition of the Environmental Law Talks held at the “eco-house” of Cebu City Councilor Nestor Archival.

Marquez could not give any figures yet because the SC’s committee on halls of justice is still finalizing the design of the building, which he said will be a “model and showcase for the world.”

“It would be a judicial complex where air can flow in freely and it would not be very hot inside. We will use solar panel and put vegetation in the area,” he said.

He also said there is a need for courts to use less paper in legal processes like sending subpoenas to parties of a case.

eCourts

The SC launched last year an electronic court (eCourt) in Quezon City as a way to achieve a more streamlined and efficient “paperless courts.”

Marquez said they are planning to duplicate the first eCourt, which is a computer-based system that aims to organize and control case work flows, from filing to implementation.

“We are automating our records and processes to keep them safe from floods and fires,” he said.

Marquez was the last keynote speaker of the three-day forum organized by the University of Cebu College of Law and the Konrad Adenauer Stiftung.

The forum carried the theme “Mainstreaming Environmental Justice through Science-based Participatory Governance and Effective Law Enforcement and Adjudication.”

During his talk, Marquez talked about the extent of the damage that the magnitude 7.2 earthquake and super typhoon Yolanda last year and other calamities in the past had brought upon the courts in the country.

Climate-proof

Marquez said there is a need to “climate-proof” the infrastructure in the judiciary so these can withstand any calamity.

According to the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP), climate proofing refers “to the explicit consideration and internalization of the risks and opportunities that alternative climate change scenarios are likely to imply for the design, operation and maintenance of infrastructure.”

“In other words, it implies the integration of climate change risks and opportunities into the design, operation, and management of infrastructure,” UNDP says.

After typhoons Pablo and Yolanda ravaged courts in Mindanao and Eastern Visayas, Marquez said SC sent its buses to serve as mobile courts to help unclog cases.

The SC, said Marquez, is considering to build courthouses by “adaptive architecture,” which is promoted by urban planner Felino Palafox Jr.

Adaptive architecture is applied in constructing buildings so they can adopt to their
environment.

Meanwhile, Marquez said the SC has no definite plans on what to do with the abandoned Palace of Justice in the Capitol compound.

Courthouses were transferred to Qimonda IT Building in North Reclamation Area after the earthquake that damaged the Palace of Justice last year.

Marquez said the trial courts and other offices will transfer to the upper floors in Qimonda in the next three months, after the air conditioning system is fixed.

Published in the Sun.Star Cebu newspaper on May 31, 2014.

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