MANILA -- Justice Secretary Menardo Guevarra on Sunday left the discretion of arming state prosecutors to the fiscals themselves, amid the spate of killings that have targeted them.
Arming the prosecutors is of course merely in addition to heightened police law enforcement activities. We just want to give our prosecutors a fighting chance. In any event, whether to arm themselves or not is purely the individual prosecutor's decision, Guevarra said in a text message sent to reporters.
Guevarra also insisted that arming state prosecutors is just one way of addressing the problem, saying that the police should also do their part in protecting prosecutors as part of the government's campaign against criminality.
We expect the PNP to vigorously help our prosecutors in the government's campaign against criminality. But the police will not always be there at the time of an ambush or attack, he added.
Guevarra also extended his gratitude to Philippine National Police (PNP) chief Director General Oscar Albayalde for committing to help prosecutors in the expeditious release of their licenses to carry firearms.
In fact, we have coordinated with the PNP's Firearms and Explosives Office to hold one-stop caravans in the DOJ and regional prosecution offices in order to expedite the issuance of firearm permits, he said.
Guevarra said he had also requested assistance from the PNP to conduct firearms handling and training for DOJ prosecutors.
Guevarra said he will look into this year's budget if such kind of funding is already available.
I will check if it is already in the current appropriations. If not, I'll request for it in the next budget, he stressed.
Last Monday, Ombudsman Assistant Special Prosecutor Madonna Joy Enaco-Tanyag was killed in a robbery incident in Quezon City.
A week before Tanyag was killed, former Ozamiz City prosecutor Geronimo Marave was gunned down by still unidentified assailants in Ozamiz City, Misamis Occidental.
Marave, who reportedly served as prosecutor in drug cases against the Parojinog family, was the 14th prosecutor killed in the country over the last 26 years.
Prosecutor General Jorge Catalan Jr., National Prosecution Service (NPS) Officer-in-Charge, earlier said it is high time that prosecutors are armed to be able to defend themselves from attacks.
The senseless and violent bloodshed has gone long enough to demoralize those who have remained passionate and hardworking in their profession. Time and again, the prosecutors are further exposed to the perils of the job that place them at greater risks and danger, Catalan said in a statement.
It is high time that a nationwide call to arm the NPS be made. That self-defense trainings and mechanisms be set in place to safeguard the very lives of these selfless public servants," he added.
Catalan also said the series of killings targeting prosecutors have raised serious concerns about their safety considering that the motive of the perpetrators is mysterious.
Catalan, however, assured that prosecutors will not be intimidated by the spate of killings of their colleagues and continue to perform their duties under the law.
"Make no mistake, the NPS shall stand its ground. These atrocities will never disable nor destroy this stable institution. We stand united and strong in these challenging times," Catalan said.
Scarred (and) disturbed by their untimely deaths, the National Prosecution Service, continuous to mourn and will remain steadfast in the call for a thorough investigation so justice is expeditiously served, he added. (PNA)
Source: Philippine News Agency