Senators on Monday approved a bill creating the Office of the Judiciary Marshals, under the Supreme Court.
Senate Bill 1947 was authored to secure and protect the members, officials, personnel, and property of the Judiciary.
Reports said the proposed Judiciary Marshals Act garnered with 21 affirmative votes, no negative vote, and one abstention.
Senator Ronald “Bato” Dela Rosa abstained from voting on the measure.
A key feature of Senate Bill 1947 is the creation of “judiciary marshals” who will be tasked to provide security as well as protect Judiciary members. These marshals will also be assigned to protect judges, lawyers, and other court personnel.
Aside from providing protection, the marshals can conduct assessments of threats and conduct investigations. Senate Bill 1947 further allows judiciary marshals to conduct probes or investigations on cases of allegations of irregularities with members of the legal profession.
A chief marshal, to be appointed by the Supreme Court will oversee the operations of the judiciary marshals together with three deputy marshals who will be assigned in Luzon, Visaya, and in Mindanao.
Three deputies will have the same rank and privileges as a regional trial court judge.
The chief marshal and his or her three deputies must all be members of the Philippine Bar and must have held the rank of at least a full colonel in the Armed Forces or the National Police, or assistant director of the National Bureau of Investigation.
Senator Richard Gordon was the main sponsor of the said bill.
Reports quoted Gordon citing that since 1999, more than 30 judges have been killed, and only a small percent of the cases were resolved.
More than 150 lawyers, judges, and court staff have also been killed, prompting the need for judiciary marshals.
Back in June, the House of Representatives has expressed hope that the Senate will prioritize the passage of the said bil, as it can provide armed protection to trial judges, many of them killed in the line of duty while others faced threats to their personal safety.
The lower chamber recently passed the bill on third and final reading. House Bill 9086 seeks to establish the Judiciary Marshals Service, which shall operate “as an independent, professional, and organized security force under the direct control and supervision of the Supreme Court.”
“The service may have up to 2,800 marshals, assuming at least one is detailed to every trial judge and every justice,” Surigao del Sur Rep. Johnny Pimentel, the bill’s principal author, said.
Based on the judiciary’s staffing summary in the 2021 General Appropriations Act, Pimentel said the country has 2,772 active trial judges and justices.
“Once set into motion, the service will help deter and thwart armed attacks against our judges,” Pimentel said, adding that the marshals are expected to proactively deal with all actionable threats.