'Special marshals' could prevent killings of judges
MANILA, Philippines – Establishing special marshals under the supervision of the Supreme Court (SC) may help prevent further killings of judges, Philippine Bar Association president Jose Agcaoili said.
“In terms of solutions to the problem of killings of judges particularly, we have been closely studying the revival of the old concept of special marshals,” he said during a Rappler Talk with editor-at-large Marites Vitug.
Judges have long been victims of the culture of impunity in the Philippines. At least 29 judges have been killed since 1999.
PBA, the country’s oldest volunteer lawyer organization, called on the government to address the “very worrisome” spate of killings. The 3 branches, it said, should work to come up with solutions to put an end to the “madness.”
One of these solutions can be the creation of special marshals which, according to Agcaoili, “are essentially an elite force of armed professional state security operatives intended to provide protection to judges."
This system was formulated years before but “somehow slipped through the cracks of the government bureaucracy.”
If it is revived, the Supreme Court’s Office of the Court Administrator can tap retiring military and police personnel to take on the role of special marshals, Agcaoili said.
“They would be of utmost importance and assistance in the efforts of the SC to come up with this elite force under the supervision, control, and funding of the SC to provide protection for judges,” he said.
“These special marshals will have, not only the power to hire, train, and supervise protection for the judges, but also coordinate with law enforcement to follow up the progress of cases,” Agcaoili added.
The marshal system can also coordinate with lawyers' groups – including the PBA and the Integrated Bar of the Philippines – to seek help in prosecuting cases involving members of the judiciary.
The Philippine Judges Assocation earlier sought the creation of a marshal system in October 2018 in the aftermath of the murder of Ozamis City RTC Judge Edmundo Pintac – the judge who was handling the drugs and firearms cases against Nova Princess and Reynaldo Parojinog Jr.
The murder of judges has happened alongside the killing, since 2016, of at least 35 lawyers, judges, and prosecutors under the administration of Rodrigo Duterte. (LIST: Judges, prosecutors, lawyers killed under Duterte gov't) – Rappler.com