City’s legal team studying MNLF plea bargain vs sedition raps PDF Print E-mail
Tuesday, 28 April 2015 14:15

By VIC LARATO

 

The city government’s legal luminaries headed by former judge now City Legal Officer Jesus Carbon Jr. has been instructed by Mayor Beng Climaco to seriously the plea bargaining offer of the more or less 250 Moro National Liberation Front (MNLF) members charged with sedition in connection with the Zamboanga siege in September 2013.

Carbon told the press briefing in City Hall yesterday morning that Mayor Climaco’s specific instruction before she left for Manila Sunday was for the City Legal Office to study whether or not the Zamboanga City or the people in general will benefit from the MNLF’s plea bargaining offer in case the city government will accept it.

He said the mayor’s first reaction was against the plea bargaining offer.

“Why should we plea-bargain? It might be misinterpreted by the siege victims and the people of Zamboanga that we are just bargaining whatever we suffered during the siege,” Carbon quoted Climaco as saying.

Just the same, Carbon said Climaco wanted the matter studied thoroughly and what particular benefits it would give to the victims of the siege and the people of Zamboanga.

According to the city legal officer, four top ranked prosecutors from the Department of Justice came to the city last week and met with the chief executive.

“We were thinking they will discuss with us the mechanics of prosecuting the case against the MNLF members. We were surprised they had with them two lawyers of the MNLF,” Carbon said. “It turned out that they came here to discuss the possibility of a plea bargaining. They offered to plea bargain the crime of sedition,” he added.

The crime of sedition is penalized with six years to 10 years imprisonment, Carbon said, and he added that the 140 other MNLF members believed to have participated in the 23-day attack on Zamboanga  had pleaded guilty of a lesser crime of illegal assembly, which carries the penalty of 4 years and 2 months to 8 years prison term without parole.

As offered, Carbon said, MNLF founder Nur Misuari and his commanders, who led the Zamboanga siege are not included in the plea bargaining.

Since there was no advance information on the arrival of the DOJ prosecutors, let alone the purpose of their coming, Carbon said they were unprepared for such meeting, hence nothing agreed upon as well.

But he explained that plea bargaining is not unusual procedure and was in fact suggested by the judge trying the case against the MNLFs.

The judge, Carbon assumed, was probably concerned with the prosecution of the case because there are just too many accused MNLFs, about 250 of them, and it will take years to prosecute.

“So, we are studying the matter as per instruction of the mayor before she left for Manila last night (Sunday),” Carbon said. — Vic Larato