By Jeffrey Damicog
The proposed Philippine Marshal Service should also protect government prosecutors who have been targets of attacks and killings, an official of the Department of Justice (DOJ) said.
“Kami ang nasa front lines. So we have to be safeguarded as well,” said Prosecutor General Benedicto Malcontento..
Bills have been filed in the Senate and House of Representatives regarding the creation of a Marshal Service meant to provide security to magistrates of the judiciary.
The creation of the Philippine Marshal Service for the judiciary was sought by Supreme Court (SC) Chief Justice Diosdado Peralta to address the continued killings of magistrates.
“We hope that we can device the system, either through legislation or through court initiative, the creation of security system patterned after the United States Marshals,” he previously said.
The Philippine Judges Association (PJA) disclosed that 31 judges have been killed since 1999.
Regional trial court (RTC) judge and PJA President Felix Reyes noted that those who were killed have been handling cases involving illegal drugs and heinous crimes.
Senator Panfilo Lacson who was one of the lawmakers who filed a bill for the creation of a Philippine Marshal Service proposed that it be placed under the control of the SC with the primary function “to protect, safeguard, watch over, provide security, and ensure the safety of justices, judges, court officials and personnel, and the various halls of justice, courthouses and other court buildings and properties all over the country.”
Under the bill, the Service shall be headed by the Chief Marshal, who shall have the same rank of a Court of Appeals associate justice; assisting the Chief Marshal are three Deputy Marshals—one each for Luzon, Visayas, and Mindanao.
Each Deputy Marshal shall have the same rank as a Regional Trial Court (RTC) judge.
The bill also indicated that the Chief Marshal and Deputy Marshals must be a lawyer and must have been at least a full Colonel in the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) or the Philippine National Police (PNP).