Marquez orders tighter security in all courts
MANILA - Court Administrator Jose Midas Marquez on Tuesday ordered tighter security in Cebu courts, noting there was an obvious lapse when a Canadian killed two people inside a court room Tuesday morning.
Marquez told ABS-CBNnews.com that several actions were taken up immediately after the incident, including the revival of the so-called Judicial Security Group.
He said he will also recommend the implementation of stricter security measures across all courts in the country.
“Obviously, there was lapse in security. All five guards on duty have been replaced. Police from the [Philippine National Police] will be posted to beef up a number of security guards. The Judicial Security Group will be reactivated and be more visible,” he said.
The Judicial Security Group is a group of employees trained on security. Cebu had such a group after judges decided they did not want to rely too much on outside forces.
He also said he will issue a new memorandum on Wednesday reiterating an order issued in 2007. He is referring to Memo Order 42-2007, which directs judges to designate court staff to inspect those entering court rooms.
The gunman, 67-year-old Canadian John Pope, fired shots inside the Marcelo Fernan Hall of Justice and initially hit two people, identified as Dr. Rene Rafols and his lawyer Jovian Atias.
Rafols, a pediatrician, and Atias died inside the sala of Municipal Trial Court in Cities (MTCC) Branch 6, where a malicious mischief case against Pope was being heard.
After shooting Rafols and Atias, Pope went to MTCC Branch 1 and shot Assistant City Prosecutor Maria Teresa Casiño.
Pope was later shot by two policemen on his arms and thigh. He later committed suicide by shooting himself on the right temple.
Marquez said Pope was a regular visitor in the Hall of Justice, which meant he already noticed the security lapses. He said Pope was even able to walk 50 meters between two branches.
Marquez immediately flew to Cebu to assess the incident. He said court operations will resume tomorrow.
Casiño is reportedly in stable condition already, he said.
Nonetheless, he said court employees, including the Branch 6 judge, are visibly shaken and have asked for a debriefing.
He said the judge was supposedly on his way out of his chambers upon hearing the first shot. The second shot, however, penetrated the thick wall dividing the chamber and the court room and even shattered a window.