Advocacy and business group Judicial Reform Initiative (JRI) threw its support behind the passage of measures creating the Philippine Judicial Marshal Services (PJMS), noting that the proposed law would “foster judicial independence” and protect the country’s judicial processes.
In a letter to Senate President Vicente Sotto III, the group expressed its support and appeal for the early passage into law of Senate Bill 1974 which seeks to create the PJMS.
The JRI noted that the House of Representatives already approved on third and final reading their counterpart version of the PJMS Act, which has been transmitted already to the Senate.
“We understand that the Senate version [Senate Bill No. 1947]is still at the interpellation stage and should soon proceed to the amendment phase,” it said in its letter dated September 13.
The JRI noted that 34 members of the Judiciary were killed since 1991, with only 24 of the cases being prosecuted in court with two resulting in convictions and six in acquittals.
“The provision for Judiciary Marshals to protect court officials and support investigation of wrongdoings against the Judiciary will not only help deter these killings, acts and threats against their lives for their role as champions of the rule of law and defender of individual rights but also ensure that such threats and acts are more timely investigated, assessed and mitigated,” the group said.
The JRI said the creation of the PJMS “would not be in conflict with the Constitutional mandate of having one police force whose mandate is both general and national in scope.”
“The responsibilities of the Philippine Judicial Marshal Service as special law enforcement officers of the Judiciary are particularly limited to protect members of the Judiciary and its personnel and support investigation of court-related offenses,” it said.
“The provision of Judicial Marshals is a complementary legal reform to foster judicial independence and protect the judicial process by ensuring the safety of the members of the Judiciary and court personnel, as well as security of the courts, halls of justice and the conduct of its proceedings,” it added.
The JRI’s members include the Management Association of the Philippines (MAP), the Financial Executives Institute of the Philippines (FINEX), the Makati Business Club, the Movement for the Restoration of Peace and Order (MRPO), Institute of Corporate Directors, Philippine Institute of Arbitrators, Shareholders Association of the Philippines, Rotary Club of Manila, the Wallace Business Forum, Paynamics Technologies Inc. as well as the American, Canadian and European Chambers of Commerce in the Philippines.