DOJ chief in favor of arming prosecutors
State prosecutors should start carrying firearms for “self-defense” following the killing of Quezon City Deputy Prosecutor Rogelio Velasco last week, Justice Secretary Menardo Guevarra said on Thursday.
Guevarra added that he was also in favor of providing state prosecutors bullet-proof vests and vehicles but the government could not afford it.
“Yes, I will support prosecutors getting firearms for self-defense. I wish we could [supply them] with bullet-proof vehicles to boot, but we have to live within our means and just do our job well,” Guevarra told reporters.
“For now we can only wear the breastplate of righteousness and the full armor of God,” he added.
7th to be killed
The 64-year-old Velasco was the seventh government prosecutor to be killed since President Duterte, a former prosecutor himself, took office.
Velasco was shot several times inside his vehicle by several men in broad daylight in Quezon City on May 11. His two daughters who were with him were unhurt.
His death prompted some 100 prosecutors from various cities in Metro Manila led by Acting Prosecutor General Jorge Catalan to hold an indignation rally at the Quezon City Hall of Justice on Tuesday. Colleagues described the slain Velasco as kind and hardworking.
Guevarra earlier ordered the National Bureau of Investigation to conduct a parallel probe to find Velasco’s killers and the mastermind.
Since October 2016, seven government prosecutors, including Velasco, have been assassinated while another survived an ambush.
Mati City Prosecutor Rolando Acido, 54, was shot dead as he was getting out of his car on Oct. 26, 2016.
Quezon City Assistant Prosecutor Noel Mingoa was gunned down outside a restaurant on Jan. 11, 2017.
Almost a month later, Surigao City Prosecutor Manuel Tesiorna Jr. was wounded but survived when a gunman on a motorcycle opened fire at him outside his house on Feb. 6, 2017.
On May 22, 2017, Caloocan Assistant State Prosecutor Diosdado Azarcon was shot several times in the head by a man on a motorcycle as he was about to leave his house.
Rizal Provincial Prosecutor Maria Ronatay was gunned down by two men on a motorcycle on July 18, 2017 as she was driving on Ortigas Avenue Extension in Taytay, Rizal.
Former Mandaluyong City Prosecutor-turned-barangay chair Pablito Gahol was shot dead on Sept. 2, 2017.
Days later, Quezon province Assistant Prosecutor Reymund Luna was shot dead on Sept. 29, 2017 on his way home from a court hearing.
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