A bill filed at the House of Representatives seeks to build the Office of the Philippine Marshals Service under the Supreme Court. This initiative is a law enforcement agency tasked with protecting members of the judiciary against potential dangers.
Deputy Speaker Johnny Pimentel said in a statement that he filed House Bill 5403 following the call of Chief Justice Diosdado Peralta for a marshals service amid recent attacks against judges.
“Right now, every active judge is a sitting duck with absolutely no protection whatsoever against potential attacks,” said Pimentel, who insisted that 31 judiciary members were killed since 1999 while on active service.
Recorded this year, at least two judges were killed, Sindangan, Zamboanga del Norte RTC Branch 11 Judge Reymar Lacaya in May, and Tagudin, Ilocos Sur Regional Trial Court (RTC) Branch 25 Judge Mario Anacleto Bañez in November.
Meanwhile, judges can only request for close protection officers from the Philippine National Police.
“This arrangement is inadequate, given that judges may not readily perceive threats from angry and atrocious litigants,” Pimentel said.
For an individual to be a marshal, he or she should have a bachelor’s degree and be at least 21 to 35 years old.
The measure mandates marshals to:
- undergo training at the Philippine Public Safety College;
- possess suitable firearms for the proper protection of court officers and properties;
- serve as “peace officers” and as such, have the power to conduct arrests, searches and seizures in accordance with existing laws and rules; and investigate and counteract crimes against judicial officers; and take and require sworn truthful statements of any person or persons so summoned in relation to cases under investigation.