Puerto Princesa dubbed ‘Green Justice Zone’ vs. environmental crimes

Interior Secretary Benhur Abalos Jr. said on Thursday Puerto Princesa has been tagged as a Green Justice Zone to stop environmental crimes. Abalos made the statement after joining officials from the Supreme Court (SC) and the Department of Justice (DOJ) in launching the Puerto Princesa Green Justice Zone, which is regarded as the first-ever in the country. The Green Justice Zone deals with matters concerning environmental protection and natural resource management within its jurisdiction with the aim of addressing climate change and environmental degradation. Abalos said the Green Justice Zone project in Puerto Princesa is significant as the Philippines is considered one of the mega-diverse countries that hosts more than 36,000 species of plants and animals, according to a 2017 study of the World Bank's Global Environment Facility. 'However, economic pressures combined with widespread illegal activities, such as illegal logging and wildlife trade, make the country a major biodiversity hotspot,' Abalos sa id. He said such environmental crimes result in a loss of natural resources valued at over USD1 billion or some PHP50 billion per year. 'On the ground, in terms of policies and capacity-building, rest assured that we in the DILG will always be there to contribute to our goals in this Justice Zone,' he said. Puerto Princesa City Mayor Lucilo Bayron thanked the Justice Sector Coordinating Council (JSCC) and partner international organizations for choosing Puerto Princesa as the first Green Justice Zone in the country. 'This initiative reflects our collective commitment to environmental justice and sustainability, ' Bayron said. The JSCC Puerto Princesa City Justice Zone is also the country's third 'specialty' justice zone. The first specialty justice zone was put up in Zamboanga City in February to handle cases of trafficking of persons while the second was launched in Tagaytay City to handle cases arising from economic development projects. 'Justice Zones' are areas where local justice sector actors suc h as police, prosecutors, public attorneys, judges and prison staff work together to identify common problems and generate common solutions to address them. Source: Philippines News agency