Judges propose creation of Philippine marshals composed of retired police and military
MANILA - Retired Chief Justice Teresita De Castro spent the first few hours of her retirement visiting the wake of Judge Edmundo Pintac, the judge who was shot dead in Ozamiz City last Monday.
Pintac was the executive judge of the Ozamiz City Regional Trial Court and had been an RTC judge for 15 years at the time of his death.
“Sana magkaroon na ng sufficient security ang mga judges natin. Kasi very risky talaga ang job nila, very risky,” she told reporters at Pintac’s wake in Muntinlupa City.
De Castro was accompanied by Court Administrator Midas Marquez, who acknowledged the risk judges, particularly those in the provinces, are facing.
“Well, it’s really very difficult for them kasi sila yung nasa (because they are in the) frontline. Cases are being filed before them and they have to act on these cases, otherwise, they might be charged administratively for failing to act on these cases. So talagang kawawa ang mga judges natin,” he said.
Marquez said he believes Pintac’s death was work-related.
“All indications point to that. Nakausap ko ‘yung widow at nakapagtanong-tanong din naman ako at nakipag-usap na rin dun sa ibang may hawak ng kaso. I’m just really waiting for the official report. It seems that it’s really work-related,” he said.
Marquez acknowledged that security for justice and judges may not be enough. In a span of 10 years, around 30 judges, including Pintac, have been killed in the line of duty, he disclosed.
He said judges can get one of their staff to serve as their security from their house to the courts and back. In the case of Pintac, he was unaccompanied when he was gunned down.
Marquez added that judges can also request for security escorts from the Philippine National Police, as is the case when they receive death threats.
“We have more than 2,000, nasa (we have around) 2,500 judges na tayo nationwide. Di naman natin pwedeng bigyan ‘yan ng security escort bawat isa (We can't give each of them a security escort). I don’t think the PNP can also do that,” he said.
Marquez revealed he is already talking to Philippine Judges Association President Felix Reyes about drafting a bill establishing a Philippine marshal system.
Reyes, who also visited Pintac’s wake, said they are considering tapping the services of retired police and military personnel to provide security as well as conduct investigations on killings of judges, possibly with prosecutorial powers.
“Ito magiging (They will be the) security component ng judiciary mismo. Sila magsesecure sa mga (They will secure) justices and judges especially those with death threats and also possibly prosecution aspect," he said.
Reyes added that the Philippine marshals can continue the prosecution of the judges' slay.
"Kung atin pong mapapansin, out of the 30 to 31 judges na napatay na, baka 2 lang o wala pa ang nagpoprosper na kaso sapagkat ang madalas na nangyayari, after 1 month investigation, wala namang lumilitaw na witness," he said.
(We noticed that out of 30 to 31 judges slain, only the case of 2 or even none prospers because what usually happens is that after 1 month of investigation, no witness comes forward.)
“So, itong Philippine marshal, sila ang magpapatuloy ng (The Philippine marshal will continue the) prosecution, evidence gathering."