DOJ chief backs arming of fiscals for self-defense

MANILA Justice Secretary Menardo Guevarra on Thursday expressed support for the move seeking to provide bullet-proof vests for state prosecutors and arm them for self-defense though he said they cannot easily do it because of budgetary constraints.

Yes, I will support prosecutors getting firearm for self-defense. I wish we could with bullet-proof vehicles to boot but we have to live within our means, and just do our job well, Guevarra said in a text message.

I wish we had budget for body armor, for now we can only wear the breastplate of righteousness and the full armor of God, he added.

The justice chief's remarks was in response to the call of former Integrated Bar of the Philippines commissioner and now 1-Ang Edukasyon party-list Rep. Salvador Belaro Jr. for the DOJ to procure and issue bullet-proof vests and other protective gears to prosecutors who are handling sensitive cases.

Guevarra earlier ordered the National Bureau of Investigation (NBI) to probe the killing of Quezon City Deputy Prosecutor Rogelio Velasco who was ambushed while inside his red Toyota Innova in Barangay Holy Spirit at around 4:55 p.m. on May 11.

Velasco is the latest prosecutor to be killed under the administration of President Rodrigo R. Duterte, who is a former prosecutor himself.

In September 2017, Quezon province's Assistant Prosecutor Reymund Luna was attacked while he was on his way home after attending a court hearing.

Rizal Provincial Prosecutor Maria Ronatay was gunned down in a similar attack on July 18, 2017 while driving along Ortigas Ave. Extension in Taytay, Rizal.

Also gunned down were Caloocan Assistant State Prosecutor Diosdado Azarcon who was killed outside his house on May 22, 2017 while he was about to leave for work; Assistant Quezon City Prosecutor Noel Mingoa who was ambushed on Jan. 11, 2017; and Mati City Prosecutor Rolando Acido in October last year.

Surigao City Prosecutor Manuel Tesiorna Jr., on the other hand, survived an attack by motorcycle-riding gunman outside his house in Canlanipa Homes, Surigao City last February 6. (PNA)

Source: Philippine News Agency

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