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Security beefed up in Visayas courts

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11:51 PM January 25th, 2013

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January 25th, 2013 11:51 PM

SECURITY guards use metal detectors in inspecting the bags and bodies of visitors entering the Palace of Justice after the shooting incident on Tuesday. JUNJIE MENDOZA/Cebu Daily News

CEBU CITY—Security has been beefed up in the Palace of Justice in Cebu, Bacolod and Iloilo cities following Tuesday’s fatal shooting of a doctor and his lawyer and wounding of a fiscal by a Canadian who went on a shooting rampage at the Palace of Justice in Cebu.

Judge Globert Justalero, chair on security matters of the Iloilo Regional Trial Court (RTC), said they would strictly implement the inspection and frisking of persons entering courts and offices.

“Even before Tuesday’s incident, we have strict security measures but we will review these to check if there are still weaknesses,” Justalero told the Inquirer.

He said there would be no exemptions and even lawyers would be frisked and their briefcases inspected.

Eight policemen and 10 security guards are assigned to secure the 18 RTCs at their temporary offices at the campus of the defunct De Paul College in Jaro District in Iloilo City.

Bag inspection and body frisking are being enforced at the Bacolod Hall of Justice, including court personnel.

Bacolod RTC Clerk of Court 6 Ildefonso Villanueva Jr. said on Thursday they have asked the Supreme Court for four more additional security guards and the Philippine National Police for four more policemen to secure the Hall of Justice.

The police assigned additional personnel from the Police Regional Public Safety Battalion to beef up the security at the Palace of Justice in Cebu.

Senior Supt. Orlando Ualat, deputy chief for operation of Central Visayas Police Regional Office and designated Task Force Pope head, said intelligence operatives would come up with a report on the security measures of the building.

The report would be made a basis for the recommendation on the upgrading of the security at the Palace of Justice.

John Pope, a retired Canadian journalist, shot and killed Dr. Reynold Rene Rafols and lawyer Jubian Achas inside the courtroom on the fourth floor of the Palace of Justice in Cebu City.

He also shot and wounded Maria Theresa Casiño, one of the prosecutors handling Pope’s cases. Pope then shot himself after he was cornered by the police.

Rafols had filed a string of cases against Pope, who had been harassing him following a minor disagreement when they were neighbors in Barangay Guadalupe, Cebu City.

Casiño remained in critical condition as the bullet has not been removed from her head. With reports from Nestor Burgos Jr. and Carla Gomez, Inquirer Visayas

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