THE JUDICIAL Reform Initiative (JRI) appealed to Congress for the swift passage of a measure that will strengthen the security of judiciary members and all court proceedings.   

In a letter to Congress dated Sept. 13 and released to reporters on Thursday, the JRI — composed of local business organizations, judicial advocacy groups, and foreign chambers of commerce — said the passage of a law creating the Judicial Marshal Service will “help deter” the killings and threats as well as “ensure that such threats and acts are more timely investigated, assessed and mitigated.”   

The House version was approved on third and final reading on June 2 while the Senate version is still at the interpellation stage.   

Surigao del Sur Rep. Johnny T. Pimentel, author of the House version, said the marshals will operate “as an independent, professional, and organized security force under the direct control and supervision of the Supreme Court.”   

“The service may have up to 2,800 marshals, assuming at least one is detailed to every trial judge and every justice,” Mr. Pimentel said in a statement.   

JRI cited that since 1991, only 24 cases of killings of judiciary members have been prosecuted in court, of which only two were convicted and six were acquitted.  

Since the start of the Duterte administration in 2016, at least 58 lawyers have been killed, according to Union of People’s Lawyers in Mindanao (UPLM) Chairman Antonio C. Azarcon.  

The latest incident was the shooting of UPLM’s vice chair, Juan G. Macababbad, outside his home in Surallah, South Cotabato on Wednesday. — Bianca Angelica D. Añago