How did shooter bring guns inside?-A A +A
Wednesday, January 23, 2013
POLICE will create a task force to find out how a Canadian man who was facing charges of malicious mischief and illegal possession of a firearm managed to bring two guns into the Palace of Justice in Cebu City yesterday morning.
They will also try to figure out who supplied the guns to John H. Pope, whom police gunned down a day before his 67 birthday. As a foreigner, he wasn’t allowed to carry guns even before a gun ban for the May 2013 elections began last Jan. 13.
Chief Supt. Samuel Yordan of the Police Regional Office (PRO) 7 said that four policemen will be sent to the courthouse today, until normalcy is restored.
The two security guards who were assigned at the entrance of the Marcelo Fernan Palace of Justice will be replaced today, Supreme Court Administrator Midas Marquez told reporters.
All hearings and court operations were suspended after yesterday’s shooting, which killed Dr. Rene Rafols and his lawyer Jubian Achas, and injured Assistant Prosecutor Maria Theresa Casiño.
Yordan, deputy director for administration, said the task force will recommend tighter security measures in the Marcelo Fernan Palace of Justice.
Senior Supt. Orlando Ualat, who is the deputy director for operations of PRO 7, will head the task force.
The head of the Judicial Security Group (JSG) also ordered an investigation on how Pope brought the guns inside the building, located at the back of the Provincial Capitol.
Judge Macaundas Hadjirasul directed the JSG personnel, who are tasked to secure courtrooms, to submit a report about the assault. JSG member Henry Espinosa declined to comment while their investigation is ongoing.
Cebu City Prosecutor Nicolas Sellon, whom Pope reportedly looked for after he shot Rafols, Achas and Casiño, criticized the laxity of the building’s security personnel.
In a press briefing yesterday, the police said they reached the scene within three minutes of the shooting.
Ballistic, paraffin and autopsy examinations were conducted, but the results were unavailable as of press time.
“There are different theories on what happened. These are still for verification,” Yordan said.
Police will also be coordinating with the Canadian Embassy on the case.
“The case is not yet closed,” Yordan said.
The Firearms, Security Agencies and Guards Supervisory Section of PRO 7 will investigate the private security guards and point out what lapses were committed.
Juanito Aguilar and Wilfredo Purog told homicide investigator Edario Manatad that they checked Pope’s bag and frisked him yesterday morning.
(They refused to comment when Sun.Star Cebu tried to interview them.)
The two are facing an investigation, said Cebu City Police Office Director Mariano Natuel.
PRO 7 Director Marcelo Garbo promised Marquez during their conversation that four police officers will be detailed at the Palace of Justice starting today.
“We will beef up the security,” said Marquez, who said in an ANC interview that there were lapses in the safety measures.
Marquez arrived at the Palace of Justice from Manila past 3 p.m. and inspected the crime scene with other judges.
He said they are waiting for the final report from the police.
The contract of the security agency, the employer of Aguilar and Purog, will also be examined.
The security guards are not using metal detectors. They only frisked the people going inside the Palace of Justice and inspected their bags.
Marquez said only the judges are exempted by the Commission on Elections (Comelec) gun ban, which started last Jan. 13, but he will request for an exemption for the Palace of Justice’s security personnel.
The four-storey Palace of Justice is up for renovation and Marquez said they will consider putting up CCTV cameras in vital locations.
Published in the Sun.Star Cebu newspaper on January 23, 2013.