Chief Justice Diosdado Peralta urged Congress to also give priority to the passage of a bill seeking to establish Philippine Judiciary Marshal intended to provide better protection to judges and justices from violent attacks.
Peralta expressed hopes that Congress will also prioritize the enactment of the proposed PJM that was patterned after the United States Marshal Service, despite the lawmakers’ preoccupation with the passage of measures aimed at strengthening the country’s response capability to the coronavirus 2019 pandemic and the proposed national budget for 2021.
The chief justice underscored the need for the establishment of PJM intended to provide adequate security and give them authority to investigate and file cases against those responsible for the killing or threatening members of the Judiciary.
“We are still waiting for the law that we suggested to be enacted by Congress but what I heard is in the Lower House, they have already finished their reading. It would already be submitted for plenary and likewise with the Senate but because of the pandemic probably they were very much occupied with the budget and also the Bayanihan 1 and Bayanihan 2 laws,” Peralta said during a press conference on Friday which marked his first year in office as top magistrate.
“So we are just waiting. But I hope after the recess or after they have deliberated on the budget or approved the budget, they will calendar the Philippine Judiciary Marshal,” he added.
Peralta issued the statement after unidentified armed suspects ambushed 46-year-old Libmanan Regional Trial Court Branch 56 Judge Jeaneth Gaminde-San Joaquin and her 34-year-old Secretary Rocelle Martinez last Tuesday, while they were on their way to Naga City, Camarines Sur. They were brought to a nearby hospital for medical treatment.
Peralta said that recent attack on Judge San Joaquin reinforced their position that “we really need your Judiciary Marshals because the Supreme Court cannot give the adequate security.”
“We want a security marshal so we would have the power to investigate and file cases before the courts, the investigation will be faster,” he said.
Peralta noted that Ilocos Sur Judge Mario Anacleto Bañez was killed last Nov. 5, 2019, but up to now no case has been filed against the perpetrators.
At present, when the SC is informed of threat to a judge, it would provide them with security or it requests the Philippine National Police to provide them with protection.
SC records provided by Court Administrator Jose Midas Marquez showed that from the period of January 1999 until Aug. 7, 2019, a total of 31 judges have been killed while they were still in active Judiciary service.