SC rules: no bringing back of accused MNLF to Zambo PDF Print E-mail
Tuesday, 28 April 2015 14:17

By SHEILA COVARRUBIAS

The Supreme Court in an en banc resolution approved on March 24, 2015 has clarified that in no case shall the accused Moro National Liberation Front (MNLF) members be brought back to Zamboanga during the course of the trial of cases pertaining to their alleged involvement in the 2013 siege.

City Legal officer retired Judge Jesus Carbon said the Supreme Court resolution was in answer to Mayor Climaco’s September 15, 2014 letter asking if the accused MNLF be brought back to the city following the SC resolution saying that the witnesses for the prosecution can testify here in the city.

The mayor’s letter was backed by the City Council and the Integrated Bar of the Philippines (IBP) Zamboanga chapter which expressed concern on the possibility of bringing back the accused MNLF should they demand for their constitutional right to face the witnesses testifying against them.

“The Supreme Court clarified that in no case shall the accused be brought back to ZC  during the course of the trial. In the event they invoke their right to meet their witnesses face to face, then these witnesses will have to be brought to Manila and testify there,” the  former judge told members of the media during the Monday regular press briefing in City Hall.

And this is where the problem  arises, the City Legal Officer said. The expenses of bringing the witnesses to Manila as well as their accommodation and food will be a matter that the City Government will have to discuss with the Department of Justice.

“Certainly, according to the mayor (Climaco), the city will not (shoulder the expenses) because it is the duty of the DOJ to prosecute these cases,” he continued.

Some of the witnesses to the cases, particularly some of the arresting officers, are no longer in the city as they have returned to their places of assignment.  Carbon said all witnesses to the case docketed Criminal Case Nos. 152737-TG to 152739-TG will have to be located and brought to Manila when the trial starts.

The legal officer is also concerned that the Manila prosecutors who will be  prosecuting the cases, though very professional “are not as passionate as our prosecutors in prosecuting these cases because only those who experienced the siege could feel how it would be if some of these cases are dismissed for failure to bring these witnesses to testify.” — Sheila Covarrubias