CJ Peralta wants expanded powers for proposed judicial marshals

Lian Buan

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CJ Peralta wants expanded powers for proposed judicial marshals


A pending House bill gives judicial marshals the power to serve warrants, arrest and investigate

MANILA, Philippines – Chief Justice Diosdado Peralta wants the proposed judicial marshals to have powers not only limited to securing judges and court personnel, but act as the main law enforcement agency for court-related offenses.

Peralta said in a press conference on Friday, November 9, that he wanted the judicial marshals to have the power to arrest and even investigate.

“We give powers to all these marshals [so] there is no need to go to the policemen, they themselves [can arrest.] That is what we are envisioning and we hope that Congress would help us on this para naman matakot ang mga tao (so it can deter criminals) because they are harming our judges, not only fiscals and witnesses but judges na,” Peralta said.

Peralta also said the judicial marshals should have investigative powers and the authority to directly file complaints before prosecutors.

“We want the marshals [to have the power to] require parties and witnesses to appear, so the case should no longer be filed before the NBI, kami na mag imbestiga (we can investigate ourselves), give them the power to file cases before the fiscal’s office,” said Peralta.

House bill

House Bill No. 3409, introduced by Muntinlupa City Representative Ruffy Biazon,  provides for these. 

Filed on August 5 this year, the bill seeks the creation of the Office of Judiciary Marshals which shall be “under the control and supervision of the Chief Justice.”

During the press conference, Peralta agreed the office should be a separate body from the Philippine National Police (PNP), and that it is not under the Sherriff’s divisions of courts.

Under Section 4 of the bill, judicial marshals can be assigned as the security detail of all members of the judiciary, their spouses and immediate family “upon determination and validation that their lives are under threat.”

In ordinary instances, judicial marshals secure court premises.       

Section 4 also says marshals can “effect the arrest of criminal offenders, investigate the commission of all crimes and offenses committed within the premises of the courts” and “serve subpoenas, warrants and other documents that the courts may issue.”

Peralta says the organization should have lawyers, criminology graduates, and those with background in investigating cases.

The need for judicial marshals was underscored after two judges were killed in one week – former Siargao Municipal Trial Court Judge Exequil Longos Dagala was killed inside his home in Siargao on November 1 while Tagudin, Ilocos Sur Judge Mario Anacleto Bañez was killed on board his vehicle in La Union on November 5.

Madami kami bodyguard pero pag lumapit ‘yan (we have many bodyguards but) they cannot arrest. Or somebody is creating trouble in the Hall of Justice, what does the guard do they would summon the policemen and when the policemen arrives may patayan na, may violence na (there’s already a death, there’s already violence),” said Peralta. – Rappler.com

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Lian Buan

Lian Buan is a senior investigative reporter, and minder of Rappler's justice, human rights and crime cluster.