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