Trial of Maute cases stays in CDO – SC

MANILA-- The Supreme Court (SC) on Tuesday said that the Cagayan De Oro Regional Trial Court (RTC) will still handle the cases against arrested members and supporters of the Maute terror group.

Sought for a comment, SC Spokersperson Theodore Te said that the high court is yet to act on the request of Justice Secretary Vitaliano Aguirre II to reconsider its earlier decision, citing security risks that may arise if the trial is held in Cagayan de Oro as well as the lack of facilities.

No action on the request of the SoJ in meantime previous resolution stands, Te said in a text message sent to reporters.

Last June 6, the SC has designated the Cagayan De Oro Regional Trial Court (RTC) to handle cases filed against the Maute members and supporters while the military's Camp Evangelista, which is in the same city, was designated as the detention of the arrested suspects.

The Court also assigned the military camp in the same city to serve as the detention of the arrested suspects.

Aguirre wrote to Chief Justice Maria Lourdes Sereno to request that the Regional Trial Court of Taguig City be designated as the court to hear and decide all cases and incidents arising from the takeover of the Maute group of Marawi City.

Aguirre also reiterated his request that the Special Intensive Care Area (SICA) in Camp Bagong Diwa in Taguig City be designated as the detention facility for the apprehended members of the Maute group while their cases are being heard to ensure the greater security of the Maute detainees.

The DOJ chief had a meeting with Sereno on Monday where they talked about the probability of transferring the trial instead to Camp Bagong Diwa, at the SICA where trials are being conducted against arrested members of the Abu Sayyaf Group.

Aguirre said there was already a precedent for holding a trial inside a jail citing the trial of the 2009 Maguindanao massacre case which is being held inside Camp Bagong Diwa where the accused are also detained.

Maganda naman ang napag-usapan namin so in all probability, instead of moving the trial at the Taguig RTC, dun na mismo sa loob ng jail ang trial para mas secure kaya dun na mismo sa loob ng SICA, Aguirre told reporters after the meeting.

He said they also agreed to establish two courtrooms for the trial adding that he would be calling on the Philippine National Police, the Bureau of Jail Management and Penology and the Armed Forces to see if this is feasible.

We agreed that we hope we would establish at least two courtrooms inside the SICA but we can add one more courtroom. We would be calling on the PNP and AFP if we could establish another court room, Aguirre added.

Aguirre said he will reorganize his panels of prosecutor that will handle the case to be composed of Metro Manila prosecutors once the SC grants his request.

I am going to reorganize my panels because my panels should be composed of Metro Manila prosecutors who will undergo immediate training on continuous trial, Aguirre noted.

Aguirre said members of judiciary and national prosecution service fear their safety in the conduct of inquest, preliminary investigation and trial of the cases involving the Maute group.

Earlier, the 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 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.

Source: Philippines News Agency