PJA welcomes Peralta’s ‘marshal system’

The Philippine Judges’ Association (PJA) on Monday expressed its support over the proposal of Chief Justice Diosdado Peralta for the creation of the Judicial Security Division patterned after the United States Marshals to protect justices and judges in the country.

According to PJA president Judge Felix Reyes, a total of 31 lower court judges have been murdered since 1999.

The latest was the murder of Ilocos Sur regional trial court Judge Mario Anacleto Bañez who shot dead by still unidentified assailants last week.

Bañez, 54, was on his way home in La Union when unidentified suspects shot him at close range.

Bañez was rushed to the hospital, but he was pronounced dead on arrival.

Reyes disclosed that marshals shall be assigned to judges especially those who are receiving threats.

A check at the US Marshals Service website (https://www.usmarshals.gov/judicial showed that United States Marshals Service, Judicial Security Division (JSD), is committed to the protection of the judicial process by ensuring the safe and secure conduct of judicial proceedings, and protecting federal judges, jurors, and other members of the federal judiciary.

“Protecting court officials and safeguarding the public is a responsibility that permits no errors. It is a comprehensive effort accomplished by anticipating and deterring threats to the judiciary, and by continuously developing and employing innovative protective tactics,”it reads.

Senior Inspectors, Deputy Marshals, and Court Security Officers (CSOs) provide security for federal court facilities in each of the 94 judicial districts and 12 circuits of the U.S. Court of Appeals. USMS protects more than 2,200 sitting judges and approximately 26,000 federal prosecutors and court officials, along with members of the public who visit and work in federal courthouses nationwide. JSD manages contracts for over 5,300 CSOs, maintains more than 1,600 residential security systems in judges’ personal residences, and as the physical security provider to over 700 federal facilities, the USMS develops, manages, and implements security systems and screening equipment that protect each courthouse.

Explicit threats and inappropriate communications against the judiciary, U.S. Attorneys, and other court officers are assessed to determine the level of danger. In FY 2018, the USMS responded to 5,038 facility incidents, evaluated 1,756 security incidents and conducted 2,255 preliminary assessments. The combination of this and other information led to the opening of 531 predicated protective investigations based on the presence of or potential for criminal activity.

USMS judicial security personnel provide the latest in state-of-the-art protective techniques and equipment in all phases of court proceedings, threat situations, and judicial conferences, thus ensuring rapid and safe responses in emergency situations as well as unobtrusive surveillance and protection during routine judicial security operations.

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