DOJ offers Bersamin NBI protection
Evelyn Macairan (The Philippine Star) - November 14, 2019 - 12:00am

MANILA, Philippines — The Department of Justice (DOJ) yesterday offered former chief justice Lucas Bersamin protection from the National Bureau of Investigation (NBI) amid reports that he has been receiving death threats since he retired from the judiciary last month.

“If he needs protection from the NBI or if he wants the threats to be investigated, we are ready to help,” Justice Secretary Menardo Guevarra said.

The Supreme Court (SC) confirmed that Bersamin has been receiving threats.

“The SC is providing the former chief magistrate security personnel,” Brian Keith Hosaka, spokesman for the high court, said.

Hosaka said he could not provide further details about the security arrangement for Bersamin.

“He was his normal self,” Hosaka said referring to Bersamin. “I guess coming from a political family, they have encountered this scenario before and they would know how to handle it.”

Bersamin belongs to a political family from Abra. His brother, former congressman Luis Bersamin Jr., was shot dead by unidentified assailants in 2006.

Hosaka said he learned about the threats on Bersamin Tuesday before the latter was conferred an honorary Doctor of Law degree by the University of the East, where the former chief magistrate studied law.

Bersamin reported the threats to the Quezon City Police District’s Criminal Investigation and Detection Unit on Monday.

According to a police blotter, Bersamin was in a car on his way home when his bodyguards noticed two motorcycles tailing them along Quezon Avenue on Sunday.

The motorcycles kept following them until they reached Commonwealth Avenue, prompting Bersamin’s driver to increase speed.

Bersamin said he received two “threatening” phone calls from unidentified persons days after he retired on Oct. 18.

PNP: Protect judges

Philippine National Police officer-in-charge Lt. Gen. Archie Francisco Gamboa has ordered PNP units to protect judges and other members of the judiciary who are under threat.

“We are obliged to protect them. It doesn’t even have to reach me,” Gamboa told reporters.

He asked Bersamin as well as former and current members of the judiciary who are under threat to approach the local police units in their areas for protection.

Gamboa authorized PNP offices from the regions down to the municipalities to deploy security personnel for workers in the judiciary.

“They have the authority to deploy security, but on a specific period of time,” he said.

Last week, Tagudin, Ilocos Sur Judge Mario Bañez was killed in an ambush staged by unidentified gunmen in San Fernando, La Union.

Thirty-one judges have been killed in the country since January 1999, according to the SC.

Amid the killings and threats against court officials, Chief Justice Diosdado Peralta proposed the creation of a United States marshal service-type of security to protect justices, judges and other court personnel. – With Emmanuel Tupas, Robertzon Ramirez

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