Aguirre replaces head of prosecutors handling Maute raps

MANILA� Justice Secretary Vitaliano Aguirre II replaces the chairman of panel 2 of prosecutors that will conduct the inquest proceedings and preliminary investigations of all cases from Marawi and Lanao del Sur.

In a one-page department order, Aguirre said acting on the letter of Senior Assistant Regional Prosecutor Merlynn Barola-Uy, over-all chairperson, centralized prosecution office for Lanao Del Sur and Marawi City that panel 2 OIC-PP Mangontawar Gubat will be replaced by Celso M. Sarsaba, Deputy City Prosecutor (Officer-in-charge Iligan City) and his members Assistant City Prosecutor Abdullah D. Macagaan (OCP-Cagayan De Oro City) and Assistant Provincial Presecutor Gerald Cecilio P. Roa (OPP-Misamis Oriental).

Acting on the June 14, 2017 letter of Barola-Uy, over-all chairperson centralized prosecution office for Lanao Del Sur and Marawi City, in connection with the voluntary inhibition of OIC-PP Mangontawar Gubat, as chairperson of Panel 2. This order modified the Department Order nos.348-B dated June 8, 2017 and 348-D dated June 9, 2017 and takes effect immediately and shall remain in force until further, read the order signed by Aguirre.

The creation of Centralized Prosecution Office for the province of Lanao del Sur and Marawi City will consist of four panels of prosecutors headed by one prosecutor per panel as chairperson.

Uy is one of the chairpersons, the others being City Prosecutor Eduardo Cueto of Iligan, Provincial Prosecutor Chuchi Azis of Misamis Oriental, and Senior State Prosecutor Lilian Doris Alejo of DOJ Manila.

Each panel would have two member-prosecutors and each group will take turns in handling inquest and preliminary investigations of all criminal complaints for rebellion involving the Maute Terror Group in the entire province of Lanao del Sur and Marawi City.

In a separate department order, Aguirre ordered additional of five prosecutors – three from Cagayan de Oro City and two from Misamis Oriental – due to difficulties in accommodating numerous respondents by existing panel of prosecutors.

The pool of prosecutors namely, Alfonso S. Vicente Jr., Louie L. Borja, Ansharey S. Lalia were all Assistant City Prosecutors of Cagayan De Oro City, Assistant Provincial Prosecutors Lito A. Sanchez and Tadeo V. Polestico were both from Misamis Oriental will be assisted in the inquest proceedings of rebellion cases involving the Maute group.

On Tuesday, around 12 suspected members of the Maute terrorist group, who were arrested last June 16 in a hospital in Pagadian City, underwent inquest proceedings for rebellion in Cagayan de Oro city.

Justice Undersecretary Erickson Balmes said the 12 faced the prosecutors handling the case during the proceedings at the headquarters of the Army’s 4th Infantry Division in Camp Evangelista which was earlier designated by the Supreme Court for the trial of the cases against the Mautes and their supporters.

Balmes said originally 13 suspects would have to undergo the proceedings but one of them died in the hospital while undergoing treatment.

Facing charges of rebellion are Racma Macatuon Talib, Lambo Ampaso Ameril, Huwarda Macatuon Talib, Cosnia M. Talib, Sanabae Saliling Macatuon, Amerodin Capga Ameril, Yusoph Taha Halil, Dima Ampaso Ali, Sapacan Mustapha Talib also known as Sapacan Sabar Talibm Halil Saliliing Ali, Mansawi Imam Gumobat and Lanoden Macatuon Dimarugong.

Junaid A. Dimarugong, alias Ameodin Ameril, was also arrested with the 12, but according to Balmes, Dimarugong died in the hospital.

He said that after the inquest, the prosecutors would evaluate whether to elevate the case against the suspects to the regional trial court or not.

Earlier, the Department of Justice (DoJ) approved the filing of rebellion charges against Ominta Tamano “Farhana” Maute, mother of Mauter group leaders Abdullah and Omar, former Marawi City Mayor Fahad Salic and nine others in connection to the ongoing armed conflict in Marawi City, Lanao del Sur before the Cagayan De Oro City Regional Trial Court (RTC).

The centralized Prosecution Office of Lanao Del Sure and Marawi City accuses [the 11 individuals] of the crime of rebellion under Article 134 of the Revised Penal Code, read the four-page resolution dated June 13, 2017 was signed by Prosecutors Ramonchito Bienvenido Ocampo Jr. and Liezel Aquiatan.

Rebellion is a non-bailable offense.

Aside from Salic and Maute, also charged in court are Sumaya Bangkit Masakal, Radiea Tugosa Asire, Mariam Ibnu Abubakar, Zafeerah Rosales Musa, Nehreen Macaraya Abdul, Nora Moctar Limgas, Mardiyya Haji Ali, Sumayya Lawi Ali and Noronisa Haji Camal.

All 11 accused were included in the list of over 300 individuals identified as members of the Maute group, the Abu Sayyaf group, and their sympathizers earlier ordered arrested by the government for the crime of rebellion.

They were indicted after investigating prosecutors found probable cause to file the case in court following inquest proceedings held at their temporary detention cell in Camp Evangelista in Cagayan De Oro City.

Marawi city is the site of clashes between security forces and Maute members since the latter attacked the city last month.

DOJ records showed that there were 89 Maute members facing kidnapping and kidnapping with murder cases before the Malabang Regional Trial Court in Lanao Del Sur.

Source: Philippines News Agency

SC, CA ask House to review show cause vs justices on detention of 6 Ilocos Norte officials

MANILA– Supreme Court (SC) Chief Justice Maria Lourdes Sereno and Court of Appeals (CA) Presiding Justice Andres Reyes on Wednesday asked the House of Representative to reconsider the show cause order issued against three CA justices in connection of the issuance of an order directing the release of six Ilocos Norte provincial employees who were detained since last month for contempt.

Sereno and Reyes issued a joint statement as they appealed for the House leadership to reconsider the show cause order issued by the House committee on good governance and public accountability on Associate Justices Stephen Cruz, Edwin Sorongon and Nina Antonio-Valenzuela of the appellate court’s special fourth division.

Cognizant of its implication on separation of powers and judicial independence, the Chief Justice of the Supreme Court and the Presiding Justice of the Court of Appeals express deep concern over the show cause order issued against the CA justices, Sereno and Andres said in a joint statement issued on Wednesday.

The SC and CA chiefs issued the statement after members of the House committee � upon the motion of Oriental Mindoro Rep. Reynaldo Umali who heads the House justice committee � voted unanimously to order three CA justices to show cause why they should not be cited for contempt for ordering the release of six Ilocos Norte provincial officials being detained for contempt in connection to their probe on alleged misuse of PHP66.45 million in tobacco funds to buy motor vehicles.

The committee called the appellate court an inferior court and questioned why the magistrates granted the petition for habeas corpus of the so-called Ilocos 6 and ordered their release on bail.

Sereno and Reyes also expressed hope that the House will reconsider its order saying the former can avail of legal remedies that are provided for under the Constitution, the law and the Rules of Court instead of issuing a show cause order.

Without inquiring into the merits of the issues currently pending before the Special Fourth Division and subject of the House Committee’s inquiry, we note that the House of Representatives is not without any speedy legal remedy that is consistent with the separation of powers should it disagree with the action of the Court of Appeals, such as an appeal,’ the statement said adding that it is our hope that the House of Representatives reconsider its order.

Former Solicitor General Estelito Mendoza pressed for the immediate release of the six Ilocos Norte provincial employees despite orders of the CA for their release.

Mendoza who is serving as the lead counsel of the six- Pedro Agcaoili, provincial planning and development office chair, Josephine Calajate, provincial treasurer, provincial treasurers staffers Eden Battulayan, Encarnacion Gaor, Genedine Jambaro and provincial budget officer Evangeline Tambulog-said the House should comply with the appellate court’s order since the writ of habeas corpus it issued is immediately executory.

We have already filed a writ of habeas corpus. That is more than enough. The writ should be immediately executory since with their continued detention, they are suffering undue emotional and psychological anguish not to mention the pitiable detention conditions, which under the anti-torture law constitutes an act of torture, Mendoza said adding that they face the possibility of protracted detention possibly until the end of the current Congress or until the lawmakers say they are satisfied with their answers.

He further explained that even if the House files a motion for reconsideration of the appellate court’s order it will not suspend the effectivity of the release order.

Espinosa’s co-counsel, Vicentito Lazo for his part urged House Speaker Pantaleon Alvarez and the other congressional leaders to adhere to the rule of law.

They are under obligation to make available to every person detained all remedies that will safeguard his fundamental right to liberty, these remedies includes the right to bail. So, its not true that the writ of habeas corpus is meaningless, Lazo added.

He said the position of House Majority Floor Leader and Ilocos Norte 1st District Rep. Rody Farinas that the writ is meaningless has no merit since it only become useless because they are defying the court order.

The House has defied the CA’s order thrice by rejecting the attempt of the sheriff to serve the order for the release of the six as they maintained that the order is invalid as the appellate court has no jurisdiction over Congress.

House sergeant-at-arms Roland Detabali also disobeyed the order of the CA to bring the six before the appellate court.

Cruz, during an interview by the Judicial and Bar Council on Monday, said they were just doing their duty as magistrates and that the House may bring the case to the Supreme Court.

If we falter because of some threats, then we would show our weakness as magistrates. As I have said, let justice be done though the heavens fall, Cruz said.

If we are wrong, they could always go up to the Supreme Court. What we did, your honor, was our duty. We found that the writ should be issued, he added.

Farinas said there is a seeming conspiracy to hide the alleged misuse of the tobacco excise tax.

Ilocos Norte governor Imee Marcos earlier lamented their continued detention and the failure of Detabali to appear in court saying that the issue is being used for political agenda.

Source: Philippines News Agency