Gordon, two other senators propose Philippine Marshal Service to protect judiciary

Published January 1, 2020, 12:00 AM

by manilabulletin_admin

By Mario Casayuran

When it resumes regular session next week after a month-long Christmas break, the Senate begins public hearings on bills proposing the creation of a Philippine Marshal Service that would ensure the security and protection of the members of the Bench.

Senator Richard Gordon

The Senate committee on justice and human rights chaired by Senator Richard J. Gordon will discuss the proposal contained in the bills filed by Senators Gordon, Panfilo M. Lacson, and Ronald dela Rosa.

Gordon said the proposed Philippine Marshal Service would protect judges in cases where they are prevented from holding trial in their assigned salas through intimidation, which has been happening in some areas in the country.

“There have been occasions, for example, and I’m sure both my colleagues here who were in the police—I remember many judges would not stay in Sulu or in Basilan. They would hold court in Zamboanga and even the mayors did that. Also, there have been occasions where we have had to move courts or cases…to Manila because we are not so confident about the protection that will be [given] the judges,” he said.

Gordon also mentioned a judge in Basilan who carried an AK-47 because he was not sure that he was going to get protection in the Maguindanao Massacre case.

“So we are coming from that direction. We are coming from a direction that will allow the Supreme Court to protect our judges. Under the Constitution, they are in control of the judiciary and I think they should be allowed to make sure na maipagtatanggol natin iyang mga huwes natin, lalo na iyong mga nasa malalayong lugar,” he said (..to make sure that judges would be protected, particularly those in faraway places).

“Pag nagkaroon tayo ng marshal service, protective services, siguro may laban na ang mga huwes at sigurado mag-iisip na ng dalawang beses o tatlong beses iyong mga mananakot at papatay sa mga husgado,” he said. (When we have this Marshal Service, protective services, judges would have a fighting chance and perhaps this will make criminals think twice or thrice before threatening or killing our judges.)

These bills are Gordon’s Senate Bill (SB) No. 118, Lacson’s SB 1209, and Dela Rosa’s SB 1237.

In his bill, Gordon proposes the creation of a Philippine Marshal Service under the Supreme Court through the Office of the Court Administrator, which shall be tasked, to protect, defend, safeguard, watch over, provide security, and ensure the safety of justice, judges, court officials and personnel, and halls of justice, courthouses, and other court buildings and properties; and conduct threat assessments and undertake investigations of crimes and other offenses committed, including potential security threats, against these.

The marshals will also assist in the execution and implementation of court orders; assist in the protection of witnesses and in the security of transportation of accused or witnesses necessary in the continuation of court proceedings; seize, freeze, manage, and dispose of assets seized, frozen, or forfeited by courts nationwide; and make arrests of fugitives and searches and seizures in accordance with the Constitution, existing laws, jurisprudence and rules, among others.