By Jasmine Mohammadsali
In the recent plea bargaining proposal for accused MNLF members accused in the September 2013 Zamboanga siege, Mayor Beng Climaco defends the City’s stand and clamors for justice!
On April 22, 2015, members of the Panel of Special Prosecutors from the Department of Justice met with City Mayor Beng Climaco and the City Legal Team to discuss recent developments of the cases entitled People of the Philippines versus Chairman Nurulaji Misuari, et.al., where the accused proposed to plead guilty to lesser crimes.
The chief executive’s initial reaction was to outrightly reject the plea bargaining proposal, but later reiterated the need to act intelligently and utmost prudence.
Relative to this development, the Mayor restated the continued clamor of the City for justice commensurate to the damages and trauma caused by the siege which killed 38 security forces and civilians, wounded 266, and displaced 22,196 families.
Under the People of the Philippines versus Chairman Nurulaji Misuari, et.al. case, the accused are facing charges of rebellion and violation of the International Humanitarian Law (IHL) which carries a penalty of reclusion perpetua.
The accused are proposing to plead guilty to a lesser crime of Sedition which carries with it a penalty of 6 years imprisonment. Also, about 145 accused, represented by the Public Attorney’s Office (PAO) of the Pasig City District Office, are offering to plead guilty to a lesser crime of Illegal Assembly which carries a penalty of 1 month and 1 day to 6 months imprisonment; and illegal use of uniform which carries a penalty of 1 month and 1 day to 6 months imprisonment.
“I pose this question to all: Are the terms of the foregoing plea bargaining proposals of the accused commensurate to serve justice to our fallen heroes, the people of the City of Zamboanga?” said Climaco.
To this, Climaco holds the MNLF accountable for the 242 deaths in evacuation centers after the siege.
“I shall ensure that justice shall be given to the people of Zamboanga who are victims of the September 2013 siege,” the Mayor declared. — Jasmine Mohammadsali