THE Regional Trial Court (RTC) 7 wants more police officers assigned to the Palace of Justice in Cebu City’s North Reclamation Area to ensure the safety of workers and all those who have business to do with the courts.
RTC Executive Judge Soliver Peras asked the Police Regional Office (PRO) 7 to give them at least five more police officers, for now. Seven security guards and nine police officers are currently assigned to the Quimonda Building, which has housed Cebu’s courtrooms since an earthquake in October 2013.
Two of the additional police officers will serve as the judge’s escorts.
In his letter to Chief Supt. Noli Taliño, who heads PRO 7, Judge Peras said they need additional police personnel because they are handling some sensitive cases.
Peras, whose previous police escorts were taken away from him, said he recently received five drug cases from Malaybalay, Bukidnon after the judges and prosecutors there inhibited themselves from handling them.
Some of these judges and prosecutors have reported attempts on their lives, which they blamed on individuals allegedly connected to two suspected drug lords whose cases they are hearing.
Peras added it was he who convicted former congressman Ruben Ecleo Jr., who has 50,000 “fanatics” in Cebu Province, for the crime of parricide.
He said that Ecleo’s supporters were not happy with the decision and pointed out that at least 27 men and women have died as a result of the case.
“We must not lower our guard. Quimonda Hall of Justice needs additional policemen very badly,” he added.
Quimonda currently houses 22 RTC Cebu City branches and eight Cebu City Municipal Trial Court in Cities (MTCC), with each branch having 12 personnel. There will be one additional RTC branch and three MTCC branches soon.
The RTC branches handle an average of 800 cases from Cebu City, while the drug courts have 1,000 cases.
Peras also said there are six RTC judges in the city who are assisting the Mandaue RTC and received 500 cases just this week.
Six other RTC judges are also assigned to assist the Lapu-Lapu RTC.
Apart from the courtrooms, the offices of the Maritime Industry Authority and some business establishments occupy the first two floors of the Quimonda Building.
Courts are located on the third and fourth floors.
Judge Peras also wants the PRO 7 to assign to Quimonda some police trainees who are currently being trained in Sibonga under the leadership of Supt. Arnel Amor Libid of the Regional Public Safety Battalion.
The RTC in Cebu City is preparing to be an e-court and has until Oct. 31 this year to encode all its case loads, Peras said.
“Maybe it would be of great advantage to them that they will be assigned before the different branches of RTC Cebu City in encoding cases, especially criminal cases, as part of their exposure or OJT (on-the-job training),” the judge said.
Peras said that the trainees can be rotated per week depending on the number of police trainees that will be assigned to them.
Cebu City Councilor Dave Tumulak, in an interview, said he will endorse the judge’s request to the PRO 7. (He has been designated as deputy mayor for peace and order matters.)
“It’s necessary to have additional police especially nowadays that there are many cases involving drugs nga tiwasonon sa court (that are pending in court). What will happen to our President’s call to curb illegal drugs? It will be useless without the support of our law enforcers,” he said.
The PRO 7 has already received the request.
Chief Insp. Dexter Calacar, public information officer, said the request is already with the office of Chief Superintendent Taliño.
Before acting on the request, Calacar said, Taliño will discuss it with Senior Supt. Renato Dugan, head of the Regional Personnel and Human Resources Development Division 7.