The trial of the cases against the arrested Maute group members and their supporters in Cagayan De Oro Regional Trial Court (RTC) has been temporarily stopped, Justice Secretary Vitaliano Aguirre II said on Thursday.
Aguirre said the special panel of prosecutors handling the Maute cases recently filed a motion for the suspension of arraignment of the accused and hearing of the rebellion cases pending the decision of the Supreme Court on their request to transfer the trial and detention of the arrested terrorists to Taguig City.
“We have to wait for the Supreme Court’s action on our request… because once granted, the cases would move faster since the proceedings will start with the same court and there will be no need to transfer the case while the hearing is already ongoing,” Aguirre said.
“I hope it will be approved soon. The situation there (in Cagayan de Oro) is becoming critical as more Maute members are being arrested and subjected to inquest,” he added.
He revealed that the CDO court has granted the DOJ’s request.
Aguirre also reiterated his call on the SC to act on his request for the transfer of venue of the cases to the Taguig RTC and detention of arrested Maute terrorists in Camp Bagong Diwa in the same city.
The DOJ has already indicted several arrested members and supporters of the terror group – including Cayamora Maute and Ominta Romato Maute, alias Farhana, parents of the Maute brothers who led the group behind the attack in Marawi City last May 23.
Also charged with rebellion before the Cagayan De Oro RTC were former Marawi City Mayor Fajad Salic; Mohaamad Maute, alias Abu Jadid, alleged bomb maker of Maute Group; and Faridah Pangompig Romato, Aljadid Pangompig Romato and Abdulralman Dimakuta Sevad.
Earlier this week, the two arrested Abu Sayyaf members believed to have provided medical treatment to wounded terrorists fighting government troops – Jadzrie Harad Saabdula and Jamal Kalib Jamil – were also indicted for the same crime
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.
The DOJ earlier asked the SC to reconsider its resolution, citing security risks that may arise if the trial is held in Cagayan de Oro as well as the lack of facilities.
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 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.
The said letter which asked for a reconsideration in the earlier resolution of the Court to hold the trial of cases related to Marawi attack in Cagayan de Oro is still subject for deliberation by the high court in full session.
On Wednesday, Aguirre said that 30 prosecutors in Metro Manila will undergo training on the possible continuous trial on the cases filed against members and supporters of the terrorist group Maute in connection with the Marawi City seige.
“We are already choosing at least 30 prosecutors for them to undergo training on continuous trial in these rebellion cases. They will train even before the Supreme Court resolves our petition,” Aguirre said.
He added that once completed, the 30 prosecutors will be divided into two panels of 15 members each headed by a senior state prosecutor.
Under the continuous trial system, postponements of hearings are prohibited unless on exceptional grounds and direct the courts to promulgate the decision to not later than 90 days from the submission of the case for decision.
Also under the set-up, the trial of cases will be held from Monday to Thursday starting at 8:30a.m. to 11:30 a.m. and then at 2 p.m. to 4:30 p.m.
The implementation of the continuous trial system is part of the initiatives set forth by Chief Justice Maria Lourdes Sereno when she assumed the top SC post to enable the speedy disposition of cases and decongest the country’s courts. (Christopher Lloyd T. Caliwan/PNA)