'Big loss': Chief Justice orders security beef up after Manila judge's killing
People inside the Manila City Hall were ushered out on Wednesday afternoon after a judge was shot insider her chamber.
The STAR/Russell Palma

'Big loss': Chief Justice orders security beef up after Manila judge's killing

Christian Deiparine (Philstar.com) - November 11, 2020 - 8:26pm

MANILA, Philippines — Chief Justice Diosdado Peralta has ordered stricter security measures in place after the shooting of a  Manila trial court judge on Wednesday afternoon who was added to the list of many in the legal profession that had been killed since 2016.

Judge Ma. Theresa Abadilla of the Manila Regional Trial Court's Brach 45 was gunned down in a courtroom by her own chief of court clerk, who was identified as Amador Rebato. 

Abadilla, 44, was rushed to the hospital but by 3:15 p.m. was declared dead. Peralta in a statement paid tribute to the slain judge whom he said he personally knew as an "upright and highly competent magistrate."

"It is with deep sadness that I learned this afternoon about the killing of Judge Ma. Teresa Abadilla," he said. "[Her] passing is indeed a big loss to the Judiciary... she was a law clerk in the Supreme Court for more than a decade before becoming an RTC judge."

A report by Police Lt. Col. Arsenio Riparip of Manila Mayor Isko Moreno's special reaction team showed that Abadilla was in a conversation with her eventual killer about the latter's performance "which seems unfavorable."

Riparip, citing a witness' account, said Rebato was recently infected with the coronavirus that had affected his work and pushed him to plan to resign. 

"Although there are currently security protocols in place in all our courthouses, I have directed the Court Administrator to employ stricter measures to prevent incidents like these from happening again," Peralta added.

Retired chief justice Lucas Bersamin also in a statement called Abadilla's death as "senseless [that] diminishes us all."

"I condole with the Abadilla family and we pray that their profound grief over the tragedy be tempered by the thought that we share their irreparable loss," Bersamin said, who described the judge as hardworking and close to him and his family. 

The killing of Abadilla adds to the more than 50 lawyers, prosecutors and judges that had been slain under the Duterte administration, figures from the National Union of People's Lawyers showed. 

In July of this year, a report by the human rights office of the United Nations noted that many in the legal field in the country have been killed, with others have faced threats and most of the cases have remained unresolved. 

"Lawyers' groups worldwide have been raising the alarm about killings of legal professionals since 2004 in the Philippines, but the numbers documented have risen considerably over the past five years," the report read.

Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Richard Gordon had condemned Abadilla's killing as well, as he renewed calls for a measure that would put up a marshal service for the security of those in the third branch of government. 

"This is truly unforgiveable," he said. "Our judges have a vital impact on people's lives as they protect our liberties and rights, they help the victims of various violence and discriminations achieve justice."

Riparip, who heads the Manila mayor's team, said Abadilla's killer Rebato was seen feeling "uneasy and shuddering" in his conversation with the judge. The events that followed after saw him taking his own life with his own firearm after shooting the judge. 

Those in need of urgent mental health support may reach the National Center for Mental Health's crisis hotline numbers, which operate 24/7, at 0917-899-8727 (USAP) and at 989-8727 (USAP). — with reports from Kristine Joy Patag

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