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MANILA, Philippines – The Supreme Court is eyeing the start of operations of the Office of the Judiciary Marshals (OJM) by the first quarter of 2024 or nearly two years after the law creating it took effect.
The OJM is an office responsible for the security of judiciary personnel, enforcing the integrity of court proceedings, or probing allegations of wrongdoing by officials of the court, among others. It was created through Republic Act No. 11691 or the Judiciary Marshals Act, which was signed into law by then-President Rodrigo Duterte in April 2022.
Associate Justice Jose Midas Marquez, who has been tasked to oversee the creation of the new office, earlier said P200 million had been allocated for the office in the 2024 budget. The High Court, in early December 2023, began accepting applications for Chief Marshal and Deputy Marshals for Luzon, Visayas, and Mindanao.
“They will be vetted including their background, capacities and abilities…. So, hopefully, by first quarter of next year, we can appoint key officials. From there, we would gradually build the judicial marshal’s office,” Marquez said.
To be Chief Marshal, one must be a natural-born Filipino citizen, and be at least a full colonel in the military or police, or an assistant director of the National Bureau of Investigation, with experience in investigation and the like. Being a member of the Philippine Bar is only a preference.
For Deputy Marshal, one must be a natural-born Filipino citizen with the same job rank and investigation experience as that of the Chief Marshal. Membership to the Philippine Bar is not a qualification for deputy marshal.
According to the Judiciary Marshals Act, a Chief Marshal or Deputy Marshal may still be appointed without having the necessary ranks specified in the law, so long as he or she has a proven track record in investigations and law enforcement.
When the law passed in 2022, the Supreme Court was hoping that its marshals could investigate the unsolved killings of judges. Back then, the court was hoping for the OJM to be operational by 2023.
A brainchild of former chief magistrate Diosdado Peralta, the OJM borrows the concept of the marshal system in the United States. In May 2023, Chief Justice Alexander Gesmundo, Marquez, three other SC justices led a delegation of judiciary officials for a study tour on the US Marshals Service.
The long-awaited operationalization of the OJM is part of Gesmundo’s Strategic Plan for Judicial Innovations 2022-2027. – Rappler.com