BY JEFFREY DAMICOG * REY PANALIGAN
Justice Secretray Menardo Guevarra has ordered the National Bureau of Investigation (NBI) to look into the killing of Judge Maria Teresa Abadilla of the Manila Regional Trial Court Branch 45.
“Though Judge Abadilla’s death appears to have arisen from an internal issue with her clerk of court, I have nonetheless directed the NBI to conduct a parallel probe, considering that the incident has implications on the personal security of our judges and justices,” Guevarra said Friday.
Abadilla was shot inside her courtroom located on the fifth floor of the Manila City Hall at around 2:45 p.m. last Wednesday, Nov. 11.
The judge, 44, was declared dead on arrival at the Manila Medical Center at 3:15 p.m. the same day.
The shooter, Atty. Amador Rebato, 42, the judge’s chief clerk of court, also shot himself. His body was found slumped on the chair inside the magistrate’s office.
Police said that prior to the shooting, Abadilla and Rebato were inside the magistrate’s office talking about the clerk of court’s reported “unfavorable” work performance.
Manila Police District (MPD) homicide division chief Capt. Henry Navarro said Rebato was planning to file his resignation after contracting the COVID-19, which affected his performance at work.
A witness told police that the clerk was seen shuddering and looking uneasy while being questioned by Abadilla. He later shot her in the head using a caliber 9mm pistol before shooting himself.
The Supreme Court welcomed the investigation on Abadilla’s killing.
Court Administrator Jose Midas P. Marquez said the SC has started its probe immediately after the incident on instructions of Chief Justice Diosdado M. Peralta.
Reacting to Guevarra’s statement, Marquez said: “Puwede naman talaga mag-investigate ‘yung NBI because a crime has been committed.
“But we are also investigating and reviewing our court policies.”
Marquez admitted, however, that on the review of security policies, “it is more complicated with some courts in Manila because they are housed in the City Hall, over which we do not have full control.”
While the SC has constructed many Halls of Justice (HoJs) in the country, many court rooms and offices – like many courts in Manila – are still housed in local government buildings.