Senator Richard J. Gordon filed a proposed bill creating an independent arm that will ensure the security of the judiciary entitled, “An Act Creating the Philippine Marshal Service Under the Control and Supervision of the Supreme Court of the Philippines, Appropriating Funds Therefor and for Other Purposes”.
The proposed law, also known as Senate Bill No. 1181, aims to establish the Philippine Marshal Service, a unit that will protect the lives of the members of the judiciary and will assist in the administration of justice.
The creation of the bill came following Supreme Court (SC) Chief Justice Diosdado Peralta’s previous statement that he envisions having a security force, patterned after the United States Marshals Service, that will protect the judges.
Gordon earlier expressed concern over the high number of murder cases involving the judiciary in the country, which includes the ambush of Ilocos Sur Judge Mario Anacleto Bañez in San Fernando, La Union last November 5. Former Municipal Trial Court Judge Exequil Dagala was also shot dead in his residence in Siargao Island, Surigao del Norte last November 1.
According to the Philippine Judges Association, a total of 31 judges have been killed in the Philippines from January 1999 up to August this year. Ninety percent of them were regional trial court judges and only 10% of the cases have been solved.
Gordon’s proposed bill states that the Philippine Marshal Service shall be created under the SC through the Office of the Court Administrator. Its functions include the protection of justices, judges, court officials and personnel; conducting assessments and investigations of crimes against justices; making sure that court trials and hearings proceed accordingly; conducting investigations of irregularities committed by judges and justices; assisting in the implementation of court orders; and helping in the protection of witnesses; managing and disposing seized, frozen or forfeited assets by the Courts; conducting arrests, searches and seizures in accordance with the Constitution; and performing other related functions as the SC, the Chief Justice or the Court Administrator may order.
According to the bill, the unit shall be headed by a Chief Marshal and there will be three Deputy Marshals to be assigned in Luzon, Visayas and Mindanao.
It will also be composed of different divisions namely such as Communications Division, Inspection Division, Judicial Security Division, Investigative Operations divisions, Witness Security Division, and Tactical Operations Divisions, to name some.
Gordon believes that through the bill, the judges all over the country will be protected especially those who are handling high-profile cases who are most likely to receive death threats.
“Our judges make every effort to guarantee fairness in every case that they handle. They have a vital impact on the people’s lives as they protect our liberties and sacred rights, and help victims of various violence and discriminations achieve justice. And so, it is important that we also ensure their security and protect them from those who want to do them harm. Without the judges, there can be no justice,” said Gordon.