Justices condemn killing of Bulacan judge

MANILA, Philippines (2nd UPDATE) – Chief Justice Maria Lourdes Sereno and the associate justices of the Supreme Court (SC) condemned the murder of a judge in Bulacan on Wednesday, November 11.

According to the SC statement, Malolos, Bulacan Regional Trial Court Branch 84 Presiding Judge Wilfredo Nieves was heading home from his courtroom at the Capitol Compound when unidentified men tailed his Toyota Fortuner and gunned him down.

The Inquirer also reported that the ambush occurred while Nieves was inside his car at an intersection near the Malolos Industrial Park along MacArthur Highway in Barangay Tikay at around 4:45 pm.

"Judge Nieves suffered multiple gunshot wounds in different parts of his body, to which he succumbed," the SC statement said. 

The SC justices "express their outrage and sadness" over the murder of Nieves.

"The Court condemns in the strongest terms the killing of Judge Nieves and calls on the authorities concerned to take all necessary steps with all deliberate speed to do justice for Judge Nieves by fully investigating his killing," the statement added.

The Regional Trial Court Judges Association of Bulacan also condemned the killing "in the strongest terms."

"We demand that this senseless killing be solved immediately and that the perpetrators be brought to justice."

An assassination?

Former justice secretary and now 2016 senatorial candidate Leila de Lima believes Nieves' murder was related to his work. 

In April 2012, Nieves convicted one suspected leader of the Dominguez car theft gang operating in Metro Manila and Central Luzon. The late judge sentenced Raymond Dominguez up to 30 years in prison.

"I think this assassination is related to his work. He simply had a job to
do, and that does not deserve a death warrant. An average of two judges are
killed each year in the Philippines, according to Amnesty International.
One death is already too many," de Lima said.

"I call on the Philippine National Police and the National Bureau of
Investigation to swiftly act upon this case, so that we may give justice to
the family of Judge Nieves," she added.

Communications Secretary Herminio Coloma Jr said on Thursday that the Nieves' killers are "being tracked as the police and the government are determined to bring them to the bar of justice." 

"This is a matter that must be referred to the Supreme Court. The Supreme Court is the administrator of the judicial system and they are in the best position to determine what arranagements are appropriate for the line of work that they perform," added Coloma.

"The government, through its security agencies, are willing to work with the judiciary in determining what are the appropriate measures for improving the—for ensuring the security of our court officials."

Only last September, a trial judge in Aurora province – Baler Regional Trial Court Branch 91 Presiding Judge Jude Erwin Alaba – was shot 6 times near his own court room by an unidentified gunman. Rappler.com