Press Release
January 22, 2013


SENATOR Chiz Escudero slammed the shooting incident inside the Metropolitan Trial Court in Cities (MTCC) Branch 6 in Cebu City which left three people dead - including the shooter and one person injured.

Escudero, chairman of Senate committee on justice and human rights, said, "this incident is upsetting. I would like to extend my deepest sympathies to all the victims. The shooting incident should not have happened, inside a judicial court at that. What irony it is that it happened inside a place of refuge for justice, a place where legal rights are emphasized."

The shooter, Canadian national John Pope, shot dead Dr. Rene Rafols and his lawyer, Giovanni Achas, while a hearing on a case against the shooter was going on.

Pope was being sued by Rafols for malicious mischief.

Reports said after shooting the two victims, Pope turned on other people in the courtroom, and shot and injured Cebu City Assistant Prosecutor Maria Teresa Casino.

A responding policeman shot Pope, who died while receiving treatment at a hospital.

The senator expressed concern over the security in judicial courts all in the country, noting that members of the judiciary are in constant threat, and that many have been killed in relation to the cases they handled.

"Members of the judiciary have to look over their backs constantly due to threats to their lives. They should not be subjected anymore to this same kind of unease once they step into our judicial courts. There should not be any threats anymore," Escudero said.

He called for a stricter imposition of security arrangements in courts, maximizing the use of physical and electronic deterrents and other security equipment.

"Our courts should be insulated from threats, harms for everyone. We must ensure that all courts are orderly and safe where the public can take refuge, and ascertain that within its halls their rights are protected and emphasized," Escudero said.

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