MANILA — Justice Secretary Vitaliano Aguirre II on Friday ordered immediate inquest proceedings on the suspected bomb maker and alleged member of the terrorist Maute Group arrested by the authorities in Cagayan de Oro City.
The suspect, identified as Mohaamad Maute alias Abu Jadid, 22, a resident of Butig, Lanao del Sur, and suspected bomb expert of the Maute Group, was arrested Thursday by a joint team of Martial Law Special Action Group (ML-SAG), consisting of police and military operatives, National Intelligence Coordinating Agency and other members of the local intelligence community, outside a room he was renting in a house in Sitio Santa Cruz, Barangay Macasandig.
His apprehension was based on Arrest Order No. 1 issued and signed by National Defense Secretary and Martial Law Administrator Delfin Lorenzana dated June 5, 2017, for violating Article 134 on rebellion under the Revised Penal Code.
“The arrest of Mohaamad Maute is a very welcome development in our efforts to bring to justice the perpetrators behind the attacks on the people of Marawi City. Only by successfully prosecuting the responsible parties can we vindicate the people of Marawi City, particularly the innocent victims,” Aguirre said in a statement.
”The perpetrators of the dastardly attacks on Marawi City must be brought to justice, no questions there. I have instructed the Panel of Prosecutors to immediately conduct the inquest proceedings and to expedite their prosecution and hopefully, their conviction.”
Aguirre also reiterated the need to transfer to the Metro Manila courts the cases against the Maute terrorist group.
”The arrest of Mohaamad Maute in Macasandig in Cagayan de Oro further justifies our request to the Supreme Court for the transfer of the hearing of these cases from Cagayan de Oro courts,” he said.
“Imagine, one of the personalities involved in the Marawi takeover already in Cagayan de Oro City! This fact justifies the collective fear of our prosecutors and everyone who will be involved in the prosecution of these cases.”
The justice secretary said he had already sent two letters dated June 14 and 15 to Supreme Court (SC) Chief Justice Maria Lourdes Sereno, asking that “the regional trial court (RTC) in Taguig City be designed as the court to try and decide all cases and incidents arising from the Maute takeover of Marawi City”.
Aguirre said members of the judiciary and national prosecution service fear for their safety in the conduct of the inquest, preliminary investigation and trial of the cases involving the Maute Group.
“There is a clear and present danger to the security of police escorts and detainees subject of the inquest proceedings for rebellion, as shown in the recent ambush of the police convoy in neighboring Lanao del Norte on June 10, 2017, which caused the wounding of three police escorts and the death of the four detainees,” he said in one of the letters.
“In the interest of the safety of our personnel, to provide proper detention facilities to apprehended members of the Maute Group and to serve the ends of justice, may we request the regional trial court in Taguig City to be designated as the court to try and decide all cases and incidents arising from the Maute Group takeover of Marawi City.”
Aguirre said he has personally inspected the detention facility of arrested Maute members and supporters in Camp Evangelista in Cagayan de Oro City and saw several problems.
”Camp Evangelista does not have proper detention facilities to accommodate apprehended members of the Maute Group. The Armed Forces of the Philippines does not have adequate training to provide proper jail management and funds for food and other provision for detainees,” he explained in the letter.
Aguirre has also requested the SC to designate the Special Intensive Care Areas (SICA) located in Camp Bagong Diwa, Taguig City as the detention facility for apprehended members of Maute Group as it houses high-profile and dangerous individuals.
He noted that the Cagayan de Oro courts, which are temporarily located at the City Tourism Hall after the Hall of Justice was gutted by fire in January 2015, are not a convenient venue for the trial.
“The modest office space of the City Tourism Hall cannot accommodate the influx of detainees to be arraigned or to undergo preliminary investigation of trial. Moreover, the facility is not secure enough to be a venue of a high-profile, very dangerous group of individuals,” the DOJ chief said.
Last June 6, the SC designated the Cagayan de Oro regional trial court to handle cases filed against Maute members and supporters while the military’s Camp Evangelista would serve as the detention of the arrested suspects.
Earlier, the DOJ approved the filing of rebellion charges against Ominta Tamano “Farhana” Maute, mother of Maute Group leaders Abdullah and Omar; former Marawi City Mayor Fahad Salic; and nine others linked 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 Sur 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 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 were 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 more than 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.