Trial judges identify security measures-A A +A
Friday, January 25, 2013
TRIAL court judges in Cebu City yesterday met and tackled ways to beef up security at the Palace
Judge Meinrado Paredes, former executive judge of the Cebu City Regional Trial Court (RTC), said one of the security measures to be undertaken will be to require visitors, including litigants, lawyers and news reporters, to show their IDs upon entry.
Paredes, presiding judge of RTC Branch 13, said judges decided to reactivate the Judicial Security Group (JSG), which serves as an in-house security unit of the judiciary.
Judges also decided that access to the interiors of the Palace of Justice be limited to the front and back doors.
There was a proposal to close other doors, such as the back door of the Cebu Provincial Prosecutor's Office, Paredes said.
He declined to give more details on what was discussed in the meeting.
The need to strengthen security at the Palace of Justice came after last Tuesday’s shooting at the Municipal Trial Court in Cities (MTCC).
Retired Canadian journalist shot to death Dr. Rene Rafols and his lawyer Jubian Achas inside the courtroom of MTCC Branch 6 Judge Pamela Baring-Uy. The victims were waiting for their hearing on the case Rafols filed against Pope.
After shooting Rafols and Achas, Pope proceeded to MTCC Branch 1 where he shot Assistant Cebu City Prosecutor Ma. Theresa Casiño. Casiño is still in the intensive care with a bullet in her nape.
The incident led 10 prosecutors, headed by Regional State Prosecutor Fernando Gubalane, to seek exemptions to the Commission on Elections (Comelec) gun ban.
Cebu City Mayor Michael Rama said he is not opposed to the idea of arming prosecutors.
“They are as vulnerable as we are because they handle cases,” Rama told reporters yesterday. He said, though, that the police should be more visible.
Last Wednesday, the emergency access doors of the legislative building at the Capitol compound were blocked with an eight-foot high wooden fence.
The legislative building houses the offices of the acting governor, acting vice governor, members of the Provincial Board and the provincial administrator. It also houses the offices of the Department of Agrarian Reform 7.
Building administrator Anecita Pasaylo said the fence was installed on orders of Acting Gov. Agnes Magpale.
Some building occupants, however, are worried that they would be trapped during emergencies, like fire or earthquake.
Pasaylo said the risks of incidents like last Tuesday’s shooting at the nearby Palace of Justice are higher. She added that security personnel cannot keep watch on the building’s four passages.
The wooden fence blocked the back door and the fire escape on the legislative’s ground floor.
Pasaylo said another fire escape on the ground floor will be blocked as well.
“We are not compromising the safety of the officials in this building and what happened (in the neighboring building) makes us more vigilant,” said Pasaylo.
Judge Uy’s staff said they were shocked and traumatized by the shooting.
Legal researcher Kim Solon said he had trouble sleeping since Tuesday and his colleagues are afraid to enter the courtroom.
Published in the Sun.Star Cebu newspaper on January 25, 2013.