Press Release
January 4, 2006


Senate Minority Leader Aquilino Nene Q. Pimentel, Jr. (PDP-Laban) today frowned on the proposal to issue firearms to justices and judges to protect themselves from assassins in the wake of the slaying of Regional Trial Court Judge Henrick Gingoyon.

Pimentel said a practical solution is to assign some sheriff personnel as security escorts or detail law enforcers to court officials, especially those who are receiving death threats.

He said the Supreme Court should consider tapping the Judicial Fund, derived from court fees paid by litigants, to pay for the services of private security agencies. He said he understands that the Judicial Fund, primarily intended to augment the compensation of justices and judges, has grown to such amount that it can absorb part of the cost of securing court officials.

I dont think arming the judges is the solution. If you provide them with firearms, who will prevent other public officials from demanding a similar privilege by claiming that their lives are also in danger? We dont want to see our society become another Wild, Wild West where the rule of the gun will prevail over the rule of law, Pimentel said.

He said the police authorities will also be under heavy pressures from ordinary citizens to be granted gun permits on the ground that they are not safe from criminals in their neighborhood and places of work.

Pimentel said that the ultimate solution is for law enforcement agencies to effectively discharge their function of maintaining peace and order and ridding the community of criminal elements.

He pointed out that since sheriff officers are not serving court warrants or summons to litigants all the time, they can double up as security escorts for justices and judges.

Earlier, Pimentel urged the Supreme Court to work out with the PNP a system of assigning police escorts to judges who will accept assignments in Sulu.

He made the proposal in view of the fact that there are no operating judicial courts in Sulu because there are no takers for the vacant posts of judges in the Regional Trial Court in Jolo and the municipal trial courts in the 17 other towns in Sulu.

There are no takers for the vacant court positions in Sulu because of the volatile peace and order situation there, Pimentel said.

Litigants from Sulu have to travel for eight hours by boat to Zamboanga City to attend court hearings there.

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