‘Marshals’ for judges, but who will shoulder cost?
The Supreme Court has sent to Congress its draft of a bill creating the Philippine Marshal Service to gin up calls for special protection for all magistrates and their personnel. It is virtually an admission that the Philippine National Police can no longer be expected to do its job of protecting everyone. Judges and justices are getting killed left and right. Come to think of it, so are lawyers. Should not the Integrated Bar of the Philippines also draft its own “marshal plan”?
So how does that work, really? Will judges, justices or their personnel under some kind of threat (imagined or real) be provided with such glorified security guards? The proposed budgetary appropriation seems too paltry for such a gargantuan task. Will the Supreme Court raise filing and docketing fees again? Already, litigants are being forced to pay astronomically high court fees to fund astronomical increases in the salaries, allowances, etc. of judges, justices and their personnel — without litigants perceiving any improvement in the usual snail-paced movement of their cases.
It is copycat legislation, patterned after models now in place in countries that have no problem footing the bill for such a cash-intensive scheme. Let’s face it, it is a luxury that cash-strapped, Third World countries like ours can ill afford. Besides, no one is really safe from a determined assassin. Every citizen in this country is always in danger of being killed one way or the other. Curiously, does not the Supreme Court-sponsored proposal violate the “equal protection” clause of the Constitution? Are magistrates and their personnel more “equal” than the rest of us?
Obviously, the quality of law enforcement in this country sucks. Police authorities are often seen as “sleeping on the job.” We doubt, though, if transferring control of “special cops” to the Supreme Court will do the trick— given its already insurmountable problem of dealing with thousands upon thousands of unresolved cases.
MARCELO “JR” GARCIS
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