More guards, CCTV cameras to secure Palace of Justice
After yesterday’s shooting in the Cebu Palace of Justice, officials are seriously looking into adding closed-circuit TV cameras, metal detectors and more guards.
Court Administrator Midas Marquez said he was informed that the contract with Eagle Matrix Security services requires the use of metal detectors.
“When I get back to Manila, I’ll get a copy of that contract,” he told reporters in Cebu.
Starting today, security measures in the Palace of Justice and the Capitol compound will be beefed up.
Acting Gov. Agnes Magpale issued a memorandum to “institute strict security measures in the Legislative building of the Capitol.”
Magpale enjoined other government offices in the Capitol compound like the Dept. of Agrarian Reform to do the same.
In an interview, she said it was surprising that the violence took place when an election period gun ban was in effect.
The Cebu CIty Police Office will field four additional personnel.
There are 14 security guards at the Palace of Justice. Two are stationed at the main door while three guards are detailed at the exit door.
“With this incide, we feel vulnerable,” siad RTC Judge Ramon Daomilas.
The courthouse shooting that claimed three lives and injured one last Tuesday also revived calls for the creation of a Judicial Security Unit.
Cebu RTC Judge Meinrado Paredes said it’s time to acquire modern security equipment like metal detectors and CCTV cameras because the building is visited daily by people facing cases involving shooting, theft and robbery.
Paredes also called for the revival of the Judicial Security Unit (JSU), composed of court employees, usually court sheriffs who were allowed by the SC then to carry guns at the vicinity of the courts.
He said this can augment the security guards, who were concentrated at the entrance and exit gates of the Palace of Justice.
Court of Appeals Justice Gabriel Ingles also called for the review of security because “there were lapses”.
Regional State Prosecutor Fernando Gubalane said prosecutors should be allowed to carry firearms, even this gun ban period.
Although it is not a guarantee for safety, he said, at least he can defend himself if someone will try to kill him.
City Chief Prosecutor Nicolas Sellon blamed negligent security for the courthouse shooting that claimed the life of lawyer Jubian Achas, Dr. Reynold Rene Rafols, a litigant, and the gunman, John H. Pope, a Canadian.
Also injured in the shooting was Asst. City Prosecutor Ma. Theresa Casiño.
“I would recommend to higher authorities to relieve the security personnel assigned in the entrance area,” Sellon said.
An autopsy is still being done to determine if Pope died of self-inflicted wounds or by gunshots fired by respondnig policemen.
But Yordan said he is recommending to the Police Regional Office 7 Director Chief Supt. Marcelo Garbo to create a task force headed by Senior Supt. Orlando Ualat, Deputy Regional Director for Operations (DRDO).
Tuesday’s courthouse shooting also had a chilling effect on courts in Mandaue City and Lapu-Lapu City.
Judge Carlos Fernando, the Executive Judge of the three branches of the Municipal Trial Courts in Cities (MTCC) in barangay Tipolo observed that there’s a need to improve security in the Mandaue City Hall of Justice. “The security here is unreliable,” he said.
For Mandaue City Hall of Justice security guard Elmer Cordova, although no major crime happened during his nine-year watch, admitted the need to beef up security in the facility.
“We have requested firearms, metal detectors and additional guards, but this hasn’t been approved yet,” Cordova said in Cebuano./Reports from Jucell Marie P. Cuyos, Jhunnex Napallacan, Norman V. Mendoza and Renan Alangilan.
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