Giving his two cents on the issue, the sheriff of the court hearing the Maguindanao massacre case expressed fears that Davao City mayor Sara Duterte's attack on his fellow sheriff my set a bad precedent for others.
Nestor Rivera, Quezon City Regional Trial Court Branch 221 sheriff, described as "demeaning" Duterte's assault on Davao court sheriff Abe Andres for refusing her request to push back the demolition of houses by two hours.
Rivera is also a member of the Sheriffs Confederation of the Philippines (Scophil), whose Cebu City chapter condemned the mauling incident.
"Nakakaawa kung pano dine-disregard niya [Duterte] ang justice system... Nakaka-demean ang ginawa ni Mayor Duterte. That will set a bad precedent," Rivera told reporters on Thursday.
He said Duterte should have talked to Andres regarding her concerns instead of punching him in the face several times.
Rivera admitted that serving demolition orders is a sensitive matter, saying scuffles commonly arise from cases filed in court. He stressed that a sheriff's job is only ministerial and that he only serves as an "extension of the judge."
"Kung may order ang court, dapat igalang," he said.
The Department of Interior and Local Government is currently investigating the incident to check if Duterte abused her power, while the Commission on Human Rights is closely monitoring the probe to assess the human rights aspect of the case.
To pave way for an impartial investigation, both Duterte and Andres have respectively filed their respective leave of absence following the incident, which even made it to international news.
Rivera said the punching incident brought back memories when he also faced dangers in serving court orders related to the high-profile Maguindanao massacre case, where 57 people were killed, including 32 journalists, on November 23, 2009.
Specifically, he recalled an incident when was serving a subpoena for expert witness and medico-legal expert Dr. Tomas Dimaandal, who autopsied several bodies of the massacre victims. The court had to subpoena Dimaandal after he went missing. Prosecutors eventually found out he resigned from his post and was nowhere to be found.
Rumors circulated that he was bribed to keep mum on his findings, but Dimaandal later surfaced and said he was not hiding and was merely lying low due to health concerns.
"Nung sinerve namin ang subpoena kay Dimaandal, ayaw niya maki-cooperate. Halos sagasaan pa kami ng sasakyan niya doon sa Mindanao," Rivera said.
In a related development, a group of lawyers in Quezon City likewise condemned the "unjustified assault" of Duterte, a lawyer herself, on Andres.
"The incident which has hogged media attention, both domestic and international, undermines the rule of law and brings ridicule to the Philippines, where screaming headlines brand the country as not only uncivilized but barbaric," said Felipe Egargo, president of the Quezon City Trial Lawyer League.
Egargo said Duterte should always keep in mind the lawyers' oath of following the rule of law.
"Don't forget that our country is governed by existing laws and officials like her, no matter how exalted their positions, should not “take the law into their own hands," he said. - KBK, GMA News
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