BY PET MELLIZA/ The Beekeeper
For judges and lawyers, Sen. Franklin Drilon is covering up the obvious about the ill-fated Iloilo Hall of Justice.
RTC Judge Adrian Sabillo tells reporters that six judges are opting for early retirement than return to the hall of justice at Bonifacio Drive, Iloilo City. He is not among the “furious six” though but admits he has applied to hold “pairing court” three days a week in the towns so as to spend only two days at the 20-year old edifice.
Pres. Cory Aquino allotted P200 million to construct the Hall of Justice in Iloilo in 1992. Drilon, then secretary of justice took charge of government’s multi-million peso binge to construct halls of justice across the archipelago.
In less than 10 years, though, cracks started showing on the hall of justice but the ones that scared the judges more were vertical ones and those on the pre-stressed beams and girders.
More signs of structural weakness showed after the 8.9 magnitude quake that hit the Visayas on February 6, 2012. The tremblor’s 5.7 magnitude in Iloilo City hardly dented century old buildings though. Only the hall of justice sustained massive cracks. In May 2012 the Bureau of Designs of the Department of Public Works and Highways (DPWH) confirmed earlier findings of the DPWH regional office that the building endangered occupants due to structural defects, prompting the Supreme Court and the DOJ to relocate the courts and offices under the justice department.
Assistant public prosecutor Jeremy Bionat jokes that the earthquake was “providential”. Before, there was only one hall of justice, today there are “many” to serve, namely, the “De Paul Hall (a former college) of Justice” for the RTC, the Extension Building which is a new structure at the Hall of Justice compound for four MTCC salas, the “St. Clement’s Hall of Justice”, formerly an all-boys high school run by the Redemptorist Fathers now rented by the DOJ, the “Super Market Hall of Justice”, a public market, owned by the city government whose second storey is used by the city prosecutor and MTCC, and the “Iloilo Sports Complex Hall of Justice,” sports facility of the provincial government, some spaces of which are used by the provincial prosecutor.
Hans Sayno, former president of the Integrated Bar of the President (IBP) Iloilo chapter, notes that the defects of the hall of justice, “bespeaks of much corruption”, that is, substandard materials were used that enriched a few.
His uncle and also former IBP-Iloilo chief, Nory Pocesion, wants the structure demolished in order to build a new one. The latter smells rat on the turn-around of the DPWH which parroted Drilon’s suggestion to have the hall of the edifice only retrofitted.
The two mention no name and they don’t have to; talks are rife in legal and media circles here on the smart alecks who profited from the construction of the hall of justice.
One of them now vies for Congress and banners anti-corruption and good governance as platform. He even has the temerity to laud his integrity and public accountability, both imaginary, given his hand on the hall of justice heist.
Wikepedia defines “retrofitting of buildings” as introduction of new technologies on them so as to make them sustainable.
How can you do that on a structure that has been declared by the DPWH as both design and structurally defective? asks Pocesion.
Nilo Jardaleza, a veteran contractor, architect and structural engineer, joined the clamor of judges and lawyers to have the old demolished and a new Hall of Justice built “for the safety of all”.
It appears for now that Drilon, brain of the defective Hall of Justice, refuses to heed them.
Is Drilon covering up the obvious?