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Sandigan justices get extra guards over threats

September 5, 2007 5:49pm

Members of the Sandiganbayan Special Division were given additional security escorts allegedly after getting threatening messages from an anonymous person, an informant in the anti-graft court revealed Wednesday.

The three justices - Presiding Justice and special division chairwoman Teresita Leonardo-de Castro, Associate Justices Diosdado Peralta and Francisco Villaruz - got two extra bodyguards three weeks ago.

Edgardo Urieta, chief of the Sandiganbayan Sheriff and Security Office, denied that the move was in response to any threat against the magistrates.

“That was on my own initiative. I have requested the PNP to assign one police officer for each of the three justices in addition to our in-house security personnel," Urieta said.

Urieta said he does not know of any threat against the three magistrates. “My request was simply a precaution," he said.

The source, a staff in the office of one of the justices, said the threats were discussed by the magistrates among themselves.

“Yung escort sumasama sa kanila pati sa opisina hanggang sa bahay (The escort goes with the magistrates at the office and at their house)," the informant said.

Renato Bocar, executive clerk of court and spokesman for the special division, declined to comment on the security arrangements for the justices saying the matter falls exclusively within Urieta’s turf.

However, he confirmed that there is a “new face" in De Castro’s office who has been “acting like a bodyguard."

Security has also been tightened within the court premises following a memorandum from Bocar’s office.

Starting Monday, all visitors will be required to leave identification cards at the admission desk in the main lobby and the rear entrance including those who are going to the Office of the Special Prosecutor and the Office of the Resident Auditor, which are also housed in the same building.

"In order to strengthen and enhance the security measures being put in place by the Security and Sheriff Services of this Court in response to the ever-growing security threats posed by bad elements and terrorist groups, it is hereby directed that proper identification cards (IDs) be worn at all times by court officials and employees," the memorandum announced.- GMANews.TV
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