A CONGRESSMAN has filed a bill that seeks to create an office for marshal services to protect judges, according to an emailed statement from the author’s office.

Surigao del Sur Rep. Johnny T. Pimentel filed House Bill 5403, which will create the Office of Philippine Marshals under the Supreme Court, according to the statement.

The measure is in line with Chief Justice Diosdado M. Peralta’s plan to boost the protection of judges.

Improving security of judges, justices and halls of justice is part of Mr. Peralta’s 10-point agenda. He wants to create a security system patterned after the United States Marshals.

Unidentified gunmen shot and killed Tagudin, Ilocos Sur regional trial court Judge Mario Anacleto Bañez, the 31st judge killed in the line of service since 1999.

“Right now, every active judge is a sitting duck with absolutely no protection whatsoever against potential attacks,” Mr. Pimentel said in the statement.

The bill is a “very important first step” in the creation of a Judiciary Marshal Service, high court spokesman Chief Brian Keith F. Hosaka said in a mobile-phone message.

“We do hope that this initiative continues to gain traction until a law is eventually passed at the soonest time possible,” he said.

“It goes without saying that when we protect our magistrates, we also protect the rule of law. We thank our lawmakers for their prompt action on this matter,” he added.

Under the bill, the chief justice will appoint a director who will lead the marshal service. Marshals must be holders of a bachelor’s degree, at least 21 years old and not older than 35, and undergo training at the Philippine Public Safety College.

They will serve as “peace officers” and may conduct arrests, searches and seizures, and investigate and fight crimes against judges.

There are 2,561 trial judges in the country, 15 Supreme Court justices, 70 from the Court of Appeals, and nine justices from the Court of Tax Appeals, according to the statement, citing the 2019 General Appropriations Act. — Vann Marlo M. Villegas