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Manila judge shot dead by clerk inside court's chamber

Manila Regional Trial Court (RTC) Branch 45 Judge Ma Theresa Abadilla was shot by her clerk of court inside her own chamber in the Manila City Hall on Wednesday, November 11.

Major Rosalino Ibay Jr, head of the Manila Police District Special Mayor's Reaction Team (MPD SMaRT) who was among the first responders at the crime scene, identified the suspect as lawyer Amador Rebato, Abadilla's clerk of court.

An initial report by the MPD said Abadilla, 44, was rushed to the Manila Medical Center where doctors declared she was "dead on arrival at 3:15 pm."

Meanwhile, MPD's first responders said the suspect Rebato was found "dead on the spot." They said the suspect died because of "self-inflicted wound."

Recovered at the crime scene was a caliber 9mm pistol loaded with 12 bullets, as well as two empty shells believed to be from the same gun.

The report said the shooting happened around 2:45 pm inside Rm 535, 5th floor of the Manila City Hall.

"It appears that on said date and time, said victim and suspect while inside the office of the said Judge Samonte (Abadilla), witness heard a gunshot," said a initial report by the MPD.

Abadilla is the 8th judge to be killed since the Duterte administration in 2016, the 51st in the legal profession.

Before becoming a judge, Abadilla worked in the Supreme Court in the offices of retired justices Lucas Bersamin and Teresita Leonardo-De Castro.

In a statement, Bersamin said: "She was a hardworking judge. Her death, which was senseless, diminishes us all."

Chief Justice Diosdado Peralta said "although there are currently security protocols in place in all our courthouses, I have directed the Court Administrator to employ stricter measures to prevent incidents like these from happening again."

"The passing of Judge Abadilla is indeed a big loss to the judiciary because I personally know her to be an upright and highly competent magistrate," said Peralta in a statement Wednesday night.

In a report sent to Mayor Isko Moreno by Manila City Hall's security chief Lieutenant Colonel Arsenio Riparip, a witness said Rebato had contracted the coronavirus and planned to resign.

Abadilla called Rebato for a meeting (Wednesday) "with regards to the performance of the latter which seems unfavorable," said Riparip's report.

Riparip's report added: "Before the said shooting incident happened, Atty Rebato was seen feeling uneasy and shuddering while being questioned by Judge Abadilla and without hesitation, he shot her at point blank range to the head."

Abadilla was the daughter of the late Colonel Rolando Abadilla, former chief of the Military Intelligence and Security Group of the defunct Philippine Constabulary's Metropolitan Command during the Martial Law years. – Rappler.com

For people experiencing mental or emotional stress, the Department of Health has a national crisis hotline to assist mental health concerns. The hotline can be reached at 0917-899-USAP (8727) and 0917-989-8727. The Natasha Goulbourn Foundation can also be reached at 804-4673 and ‎0917-558-4673.

Lian Buan

Lian Buan covers justice and corruption for Rappler. She is interested in decisions, pleadings, audits, contracts, and other documents that establish a trail. If you have leads, email lian.buan@rappler.com or tweet @lianbuan.

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Rambo Talabong

Rambo Talabong covers security, crime, and the city of Manila for Rappler. He was chosen as a Jaime V. Ongpin Fellow in 2019 for his reporting on President Rodrigo Duterte’s war on drugs.

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