Senate panel OKs bill on PH marshals service for judges
MANILA, Philippines — The Senate justice and human rights committee approved on Wednesday a measure seeking to establish a “very strong force” of marshals that would ensure the protection of judges in the country.
Speaking with reporters after he led a hearing on the proposed creation of the Philippine Marshals Service Unit, Senator Richard Gordon said the bill has been approved on the committee level.
Gordon added that his panel is ready to file its report and present it on the Senate floor.
“The objective of the bill is to make sure that judges are no longer in peril. There will be a very, very strong force of marshals designed to protect the judges, not just bodyguards, but professionals who will protect, including the families of the judges if they are so threatened,” Gordon said.
Under the bill, the marshals would also be tasked to conduct a confidential investigation on possible threats to a judge, conduct investigations on arrest warrants that have not been properly issued, to enforce warrants of arrest, and to also make sure that forfeiture of assets is implemented, the senator added.
“Because marami (ang) nahuhuli (pero) ‘di naman na fo-forfeit yung kanilang asset, yung mga fruits of their crime, napapabayaan,” Gordon said.
“This will be a hallmark legislation, because we don’t want [to see judges living in fear],” he added.
“[Our focus is] to protect them para they can do their job without fear or favor,” he further said.
Gordon noted that the Philippine Judicial Marshals Service Unit would be under the Office of the Court Administrator (OCA).
“This is a bill requested by no less than the Chief Justice of the Supreme Court. But we didn’t need much convincing,” the senator said.
“As you know, I’ve been barking at the tree of injustice perpetrated upon 31 judges in the last several years who were assassinated, especially in the (regional trial courts) where most of them are killed by kidnappers, car nappers, and drug pushers,” he added.
Gordon had earlier cited figures from the Philippine Judges Association which showed that 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.
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