Earthquake damage forces Iloilo courts to relocate
ILOILO CITY—The wheels of justice will grind slower here after the Feb. 6 earthquake that hit the Visayas caused major damage in the Ramon Q. Avanceña Hall of Justice, where regional and city judges are holding court.
Engineers have determined that the four-story 20-year-old building needed major rehabilitation due to cracks and dislodged portions in the flooring and beams, Executive Judge Danilo Galvez said Monday.
While its impact was weaker in Iloilo than in Negros Oriental, the earthquake caused superficial damage in several buildings, including the offices of the Register of Deeds and the Bureau of Internal Revenue and commercial structures.
Galvez said the 18 regional trial courts and four municipal trial courts in cities, as well as offices of the city and provincial prosecutor and other offices in the Hall of Justice must be transferred.
The building also houses the office of the Integrated Bar of the Philippines, parole and probation board and public attorney’s office.
It has nearly 300 employees, including judges, as occupants. “Some employees are concerned of their safety especially if a strong earthquake happens again,” Galvez told the Inquirer.
Hearings and office operations were suspended for two days last year to allow engineers to conduct a general inspection of the building.
The Hall of Justice was constructed in 1992 upon the initiative of then Justice Secretary Franklin Drilon under the administration of the late President Corazon Aquino.
Drilon, who inspected the building on Sunday, assured the judges and court employees that he would help find funds for the general repair, which could cost from P10 million to P20 million.
Galvez said a three-story building at De Paul College in Jaro District was being considered as relocation site while the Hall of Justice is being rehabilitated.
The repairs are expected to last two years at most.
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