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By: Vanessa L. Almeda | Published Saturday, February 22, 2020
The 4-storey Palace of Justice which used to house 30 regional and municipal trial courts, parole and probation offices, the Prosecutors’, Public Attorneys’ and other Department of Justice offices, has been empty in the past 6 years after it was declared "unsafe" due to the serious damage brought by the magnitude 7.2 earthquake last Oct. 15, 2013. (Junjie Mendoza)

Should the Marcelo Fernan Hall of Justice be demolished or retrofitted?

Gov. Gwendolyn Garcia will consult a structural engineer on this before making a decision on the old Palace of Justice inside the Capitol compound.

"In light of the fact nga naay mokalit lang og earthquake unya wa ta kahibawo nga naay mokalit og tremors dinhi. I am thinking more about just tearing it down but I will get the opinion of structural engineers and experts," Garcia told local media on Wednesday, February 19.

Debris had been seen falling along the archway of the building, posing risk to passersby. 

The building, which used to house the courts,  was one of the major edifices in Cebu City that damaged by the 7.2 magnitude earthquake in October 2015. It was later declared unsafe by the Office of Building Official in Cebu City.

Garcia is also open to the possibility of retrofitting the building, but she wants a "101-percent assurance" that the public will be safe. If none can be given, "then we will tear it down."

"We will construct a building nga the same ang architecture design ani. Dili kanang mosibag sa mata," the governor explained.

Garcia said the Province already submitted a letter to the Supreme Court of its plan to use the abandoned structure for use by Capitol department offices.

The last she heard was that the letter is already with the Supreme Court En Banc and will be up for discussion with the High Court.

Garcia earlier said the property is still owned by the Capitol because it was not donated. She said there was also no usufruct contract between the Capitol and the Supreme Court for the use of the property.

The Capitol is also looking at renting out the extra spaces to any government line agencies once a retrofit or a new building will rise. 

"This will be perfect. It's right here in the center (and) we have a huge parking lot," the governor said. (Vanessa L. Almeda)