MANILA, Philippines – Senator Panfilo Lacson has filed a bill seeking the creation of the Philippine Judicial Marshal Service that would secure the officers and personnel of the judiciary.
In filing Senate Bill 1209, Lacson said it is high-time that Congress ensures the protection of incumbent judges and justices “so they can do their jobs independently and without fear of retaliation.
The lawmaker said no less than Supreme Court Chief Justice Diosdado Peralta emphasized the need for judicial marshals to serve as the law enforcement arm of the Court, similar to the Supreme Court of the United States Police and United States Marshal.
Lacson noted that in the last two decades, at least 31 members of the judiciary were reportedly, five of which happened during the Duterte administration.
“This legislative measure seeks to create a Philippine Judicial Marshal Service under the control and jurisdiction of the Supreme Court whose primary function is to protect, safeguard, watch over, provide security, and ensure the safety of justices, judges, court officials and personnel, and the various halls of justice, courthouses and other court buildings and properties all over the country,” he said in his explanatory note of the measure.
“Further, said Marshal Service shall likewise, have the authority to conduct threat assessments and undertake investigations of crimes and other offenses committed, including potential security threats,” he added.
The bill also mandates the Philippine Judicial Marshal Service to investigate allegations of irregularities, including graft and corruption, committed by justices, judges, court officials and personnel.
“The Philippine Judicial Marshal Service shall likewise assist in the execution and implementation of court orders,” the bill states.
The service shall be headed by the Chief Marshal, who shall have the same rank of a Court of Appeals associate justice. Assisting the Chief Marshal are three Deputy Marshals – one each for Luzon, Visayas and Mindanao.
Each Deputy Marshal shall have the same rank as a Regional Trial Court judge.
The measure requires the Chief Marshal and Deputy Marshals to be a lawyer and must have been at least a full Colonel in the Armed Forces of the Philippines or the Philippine National Police.
Both officers shall be appointed by the Supreme Court en banc and shall serve until age 65.
An initial funding of P50 million from the National Treasury will be appropriated for the wages and other expenses of personnel, and for supplies and equipment.