By Vince Alexis A. F. Nonato, Reporter

Supreme Court breaks ground on new complex, targets 2019 completion

Posted on October 03, 2015

THE SUPREME Court on Friday broke ground on a new complex it can finally call its own at Fort Bonifacio, Taguig City, which, upon completion, will help the chamber address its inefficiencies.

President Benigno S.C. Aquino III and Chief Justice Maria Lourdes P. A. Sereno led the groundbreaking ceremony at the 21,463-square-meter property located at the former Philippine Army Security Escort Area.

The laying of the time capsule and the placing of the SC Marker at the groundbreaking site signaled the start of construction slated to end in 2019.

The groundbreaking was preceded by a ceremonial signing of the P1.29-billion contract to sell between the SC and the Bases Conversion and Development Authority (BCDA).

The new complex marks the first time the Supreme Court occupied its own facility since the 1940s. The high court has been occupying the former library of the University of the Philippines Manila after the Second World War ended.

Mrs. Sereno said in her message: “Today, we have broken ground on starting the process of building the Court’s new home, finally in its own name.”

“In doing so, we also start the process of tearing down, tearing down the obstacles that hinder us from keeping our oath to our people,” she continued.

Mr. Aquino, in his speech, said that the new SC building would not only cure inefficiencies in the system, its adherence to green building principles would save P65.78 million in maintenance expenses yearly.

Associate Justice Estela M. Perlas-Bernabe, who co-chairs the committee on the new SC building, said bidding for the design and construction of the facility, costing P3.2 billion, is projected in the fourth quarter of 2015.

“If things work accordingly, we expect the design phase to commence in 2016, and the construction phase in 2017, to end in 2019,” she said during the ceremony.

The 21,463-sqm. property is 30% larger than the space it currently occupies inside the UP Manila campus along Padre Faura St., Ermita.

Meanwhile, the new building will have a gross floor area of 42,239 sqm. based on conceptual plans, 20% larger than the current facility. This will house 40 offices under the Supreme Court and 11 under the Office of the Court Administrator.

Aside from the session halls and dignitaries’ lounge, the new SC building is planned to also include a 225-seater training center and a 500-seater conference hall.

Ms. Perlas-Bernabe said the new complex will aesthetically be “at par with foreign counterparts or even better,” and will adopt an environmentally-sustainable design that will counteract major disaster risks.

She listed a few benefits to the Supreme Court’s transfer: curing congestion, addressing the inefficiencies of the current setup at Padre Faura (split into two separate compounds to the point the docketing and cashier offices are separated), and bolstering capacity-building programs and allowing the hosting of local and international legal conventions.

Associate Justice Teresita J. Leonardo-de Castro noted in her remarks that the SC has been situated in the heart of Manila since its establishment in 1901.

“Throughout the decades, staying in the heart of the capital... has served the Court well, keeping it in the midst of the most significant happenings in our country’s storied past,” she said.

She and Associate Justice Jose Portugal Perez, she said, would be more sentimental about the transfer since they started their legal careers at the Padre Faura compound in the 1970s.

But she admitted “piecemeal and superficial renovations of the existing structure will no longer suffice to further improve the capacity and efficiency of the Court, whose functions and responsibilities have grown in number and complexity.”