SC issues security protocol for judges, court workers-A A +A
Wednesday, January 30, 2013
FILIPINOS are “too hospitable” to foreigners.
This was Cebu City Assistant Prosecutor Aida Sanchez’s reflection on Canadian national John Pope’s murder of Dr. Reynold Rafols and lawyer Jubian Achas last week.
The retired journalist also injured Assistant Cebu City Prosecutor Maria Theresa Casiño.
The Supreme Court (SC) has issued a security protocol for judges and employees of the first and second level courts in the country following the shooting rampage inside the courtroom of the Palace of Justice in Cebu City on Jan.22.
Court Administrator Jose Midas Marquez issued a circular reiterating provisions of Memorandum Order 42-2007 providing for an interim security measures for the court officials and personnel.
“Members of the judiciary… are continuously exposed to violent attacks from would-be assassins and there are no existing security protocols for the safety of the judges and other court employees,” read the memo.
The SC committee on security for the judiciary resolved to provide the judges of the first and second level courts with an interim security protocol to improve security inside the courtrooms and halls of justice.
In the memo, all court employees are required to wear and prominently display their identification cards (ID) at all times while on official duty, except judges.
During hearings, the court shall coordinate with the appropriate agency which has custody of detention prisoners, such as the Bureau of Jail Management and Penology, Philippine National Police, or the National Bureau of Investigation.
When the trials of detention prisoners begin, the executive judge is required to request the PNP to assign two uniformed policemen to secure and patrol the hallways of the halls of justice and court houses, including premises.
Entry, exit points
Where applicable, the hall of justice should only have one entry and exit point for visitors.
The executive judge should secure a holding area in the court house where prisoners will be temporarily detained while awaiting trial.
When no holding area is available, the prisoners shall be detained in the bus, van or vehicle that they used as transport, or any secure place outside the courthouses.
Sanchez said if the security guards at entrance of Chief Justice Fernan Memorial Hall of Justice had frisked Pope thoroughly, the latter would not have been able to commit the crime. He would have been arrested for carrying unlicensed firearms and violating the Commission on Elections (Comelec) election gun ban.
Two police officers disabled Pope, who later shot himself in the head. His body was cremated last Friday.
“(Pope) was an undesirable alien,” she said. “There was really something wrong with him.”
Sanchez said foreigners who are disgusted with the Philippine justice system should go back to their own country.
For Regional Trial Court Branch 8 Judge Macaundas Hadjirasul, he said foreigners “experienced culture shock” about the country’s judicial system.
“They are insistent on their rights,” he said. “Unlike us, we can easily forgive.”
In his journal, Pope wrote about his disgust about “corrupt” cops, prosecutors and immigration officials.
Hadjirasul, head of the court security, said the shooting incident can happen anytime and “everyone is susceptible.”
“We should not slacken our vigilance,” he said.
Meanwhile, Sanchez told reporters yesterday that Casiño was transferred to Chong Hua Hospital’s intermediary care unit.
She said Casiño is already stable, but the doctors are still closely monitoring her.
The Prosecutors’ League of the Philippines, Sanchez said, has already given Casiño’s family P100,000. She estimated the hospital bill to be over P200,000.
“She can already talk but her left eye can’t clearly see,” said Sanchez.
On how to deal with prisoners at the courts, the memo said they shall be brought to the courtroom only when their cases are heard.
Before leaving the temporary detention area, the custodians shall frisk the prisoners.
While in the court’s premises, prisoners should remain handcuffed, unless the
presiding judge directs otherwise.
All visitors including law enforcement officers shall be required to log-in before allowed entry.
All persons who wish to enter the courtroom shall be subjected to body frisking by the court’s sheriff, process server, or other court personnel, before entry.
A female guest shall be frisked only by a female court employee. In addition, all bags and other things brought inside the room shall be thoroughly inspected.
All firearms and objects which may be used as weapons, except, those belonging to law enforcement officers who are on official business shall be deposited with the guard-on-duty of the halls of justice or with the sheriff or in the latter’s absence, the branch clerk of court, for courts not found in the halls of justice.
Where applicable, the presiding judge shall specify an area in the courtroom for detention prisoners.
No one, except lawyers, shall be allowed to talk to or go near the detention prisoners.
The judge shall place the witness stand at least one and a half meters away from his seat. When the prisoner is on the witness stand, the custodian shall stand between the judge and the prisoner.
The judge shall assign the sheriff, process server, or other court employee to be present during court hearings for orderly and safe proceedings.
Published in the Sun.Star Cebu newspaper on January 30, 2013.