THE Supreme Court has gained another ally in Sen. Panfilo Lacson in its effort to create a marshal service to secure justices, judges and court personnel.
Lacson has filed Senate Bill No. 1209 calling for the establishment of a Philippine Judicial Marshal Service, which seeks not only to secure and protect justices and judges but to also investigate allegations of irregularities committed by judicial personnel.
“This legislative measure seeks to create a Philippine Judicial Marshal Service under the control and supervision of the Supreme Court whose primary function is to protect, safeguard, watch over, provide security and ensure the safety of justices, judges, court officials and personnel, and the various halls of justice, courthouses and other court buildings and properties all over the country,’’ Lacson said.
Lacson said the creation of such a system will enable justices and judges to do their jobs “independently and without fear of retaliation.”
He noted at least 31 reported killings of members in the judiciary in the last two decades, including five during the Duterte administration.
The latest judge killed was Tagudin, Ilocos Sur Regional Trial Court Judge Mario Anacleto Banez who was attacked by unidentified gunmen while he was on his way home in La Union last month.
Chief Justice Diosdado Peralta said the killing of Banez could be related to the drug cases his sala was handling.
Peralta has included the creation of a marshal system to protect justices and judges as part of his 10-point agenda which he unveiled after he took his oath of office last month.
Aside from Banez, the other murdered judges under the present administration are Butuan City RTC Branch 4 Judge Godofredo Abul Jr. (August 5, 2017); Lagonoy, Camarines Sur MTC Judge Ricky Begino (June 12, 2018); Ozamiz City RTC Branch 15 Judge Edmundo Pintac (October 8, 2018); and Sindangan, Zamboanga del Norte RTC Branch 11 Judge Reymar Lacaya (May 9, 2019).
The National Union of Peoples’ Lawyers has also said 36 lawyers have been killed and another 55 had been attacked and threatened due to their work since 2016.
Aside from protecting judicial officials and personnel, Lacson said the marshal service will also “investigate allegations of irregularities, including graft and corruption, committed by justices, judges, court officials and employees.”
Under SB 1209, the service shall be headed by a Chief Marshal who shall have the same rank of a Court of Appeals associate justice.
Assisting the Chief Marshal are three Deputy Marshals – one each for Luzon, Visayas and Mindanao – with each deputy marshal having the same rank as a regional trial court judge.
“The Chief Marshal and Deputy Marshals must be a lawyer and must have been at least a full colonel in the Armed Forces of the Philippines or the Philippine National Police. They shall be appointed by the Supreme Court en banc and shall serve until age 65,” Lacson said.