Clerk of court kills judge, self
MANILA, Philippines — A regional trial court (RTC) judge was shot dead by her clerk of court in Manila yesterday.
Clerk of court lawyer Amador Rebato went to the office of Manila RTC Branch 45 Judge Ma. Teresa Abadilla to resign before shooting her in the face in her office, according to Manila Police District (MPD) Special Mayor’s Reaction Team chief Maj. Rosalino Ibay Jr.
A source said the judge wanted the court clerk to resign, but this was not yet verified, Ibay added.
The suspect shot himself in the head after the incident.
Abadilla died at around 3:15 p.m. while undergoing treatment at the Medical Center Manila.
A source said Abadilla “is described by her colleagues as kind but straightforward.”
The judge called the suspect to her chambers “to explain serious irregularities being committed by him” before he shot the judge and then himself, the source added.
Rebato also has administrative cases before the Supreme Court (SC), the source said without elaborating.
MPD homicide chief Capt. Henry Navarro said there was no lead yet as to claim of irregularities in the suspect’s job as clerk of court.
Witnesses told police the conversation between the two was “casual” and no raised voices were heard, until Rebato brought out the firearm hidden inside a clutch bag on his lap, Navarro said.
The suspect’s sister, who accompanied Rebato to the court, told police Rebato was only supposed to tender his resignation because he could no longer perform his duties after experiencing depression following a bout with COVID-19.
According to a city hall security force report given to Mayor Isko Moreno, the suspect was “seen feeling uneasy and shuddering while being questioned by Judge Abadilla and without question shot her at point blank range to the head.
”Judge Abadilla had to be taken down the stairs from the fifth floor while sitting on a chair because the elevator was not working, Ibay said.??
Abadilla was the pairing judge of Manila RTC Branch 46 judge Rainelda Estacio-Montesa, who convicted Rappler of cyberlibel.
The late judge had processed the P100,000 bail of Rappler CEO Maria Ressa when Montesa was serving duty outside Manila February last year, according to Rappler, adding there was no link between the cyberlibel case and the shooting incident.
Abadilla is the eighth judge killed under the present administration if proven that her killing was related to her duties, according to the National Union of Peoples’ Lawyers (NUPL).
But if her killing was personally motivated and not job-related, it does not make the murder any less heinous, according to NUPL president Edre Olalia.
Abadilla was the daughter of retired colonel Rolando Abadilla, an intelligence officer during the Marcos regime, and Susan Samonte Abadilla.
The retired colonel was slain in 1996 in an ambush claimed by the Alex Boncayao Brigade. Five persons were convicted for the killing in the case known as the Abadilla 5.
The judge is survived by her mother Susan and her siblings.
According to a statement from Chief Justice Diosdado Peralta, Abadilla “is a big loss to the judiciary because I personally know her to be an upright and highly competent magistrate.”
Abadilla served as a law clerk in the SC for over a decade before her appointment at the Manila RTC, the chief justice added.
Former chief justice Lucas Bersamin said Abadilla was a staff in his office when he was with the SC.
“I am much saddened by the tragic killing of… Abadilla right in her workplace. She was like family to me and my wife. She was a hardworking judge. Her death, which was senseless, diminishes us all,” he said. – Evelyn Macairan