No cause for alarm — CLO PDF Print E-mail
Thursday, 04 September 2014 13:55

The Supreme Court en banc did not order the return neither did it require the presence here of Moro National Liberation Front (MNLF) rebels accused of participation in the Zamboanga siege in September 2013, thus it’s no cause for alarm, according to City Legal Officer Jesus Carbon, Jr.

Atty. Carbon said the high tribunal’s resolution dated August 5, 2014 merely ordered that the reception of testimonies for the prosecution and its witnesses as well as the testimonies of the witnesses for the accused MNLF rebels be conducted in Zamboanga City by the Executive Judge of the Regional Trial Court of this city, thereafter the records shall be transmitted to the RTC-Pasig City, Branch 158 at Camp Bagong Diwa in Taguig.

Carbon issued this clarification yesterday on behalf of Mayor Beng Climaco, following a growing public concern brought about by the Supreme Court’s resolution with the apprehension that the MNLF rebels charged with rebellion in connection with the Zamboanga siege will be brought back to the city.

“They (the accused MNLFs) shall physically remain at Camp Bagong Diwa in Taguig. Only the testimonies of the witnesses shall be taken before the RTC Executive Judge of Zamboanga City and not of the accused whose testimonies shall be taken before the RTC-Pasig City, Branch 158,” Carbon explained.

However, he pointed out that the general public should be informed about the SC resolution to quell whatever apprehensions or inaccurate conclusions it might bring about.

He further emphasized that the city government of Zamboanga remains committed to its stand that the venue for the trial of cases against the MNLF rebels involved in the Zamboanga siege last year be held in Metro Manila and that none of them (the accused) be returned to the city for trial.

“Considering that we just received a photocopy of the said SC Resolution, we are intently studying its implications, particularly on the security of the city and the rendition of speedy justice before appropriate action shall be undertaken,” Carbon said, adding that his office in coordination with the prosecution team of the Department of Justice (DOJ) continues to study the matter, and calls on each and every one to remain calm but vigilant.

“Let us not allow any person or group to disturb the tranquility and peace and order of our beloved city. It should be made clear that we do not favor the return of any accused MNLF rebel to the city for trial, and we shall exert all efforts and seek all resources available to ensure this does not happen,” the city legal officer stressed.

According to him, more than 200 MNLF rebels allegedly involved in the Zamboanga siege are presently detained at Camp Bagong Diwa, Taguig City, and the prosecution has listed 287 witnesses, among them were Mayor Climaco herself and the soldiers who fought against the accused rebels during the siege.

Nevertheless, Carbon admitted that the SC resolution opens the legal interpretation that the accused MNLF rebels might be brought back to the city once the witnesses testify before the executive judge here “because how can the witnesses testify against the accused if they are not face-to-face?”

“It is a constitutional right of anyone accused of a crime to face his accuser in court,” he said.

Asked what could have trigged the high tribunal to issue such resolution, Carbon said, “Let us imagine the possible transportation cost of bringing the more than 200 witnesses for the prosecution to Metro Manila and back, as well as the cost of their stay there for a longer period. These are all practical considerations that may have made the Supreme Court issue the resolution. This we are just thinking aloud.”— Vic Larato