City gov’t junks MNLFs’ plea bargaining proposal PDF Print E-mail
Tuesday, 02 June 2015 09:44

By VIC LARATO

The city government of Zamboanga has rejected the plea bargaining proposal of the Moro National Liberation Front (MNLF) members to plead guilty to a lesser crime of sedition only instead of rebellion and violation of the International Humanitarian Law (IHL), of which they were accused in connection with their participation in the September 2013 siege of this city.

Mayor Beng Climaco told the press briefing yesterday moarning that the city’s rejection of the MNLFs’ plea bargaining proposal came after consultations and thorough consideration of the matter, stressing that 38 security forces and civilians were killed, 266 were wounded during the Zamboanga siege which lasted for three weeks.

“We should also remember the 242 mostly children who died in the evacuation centers. This devastation had destroyed 9,722 homes valued at P200.83 million. Our airport and seaport were closed, paralyzing trade links with the rest of the country,” Mayor Climaco said, adding that the siege had also resulted in billions of pesos in economic losses.

“Till this day, we continue our humanitarian efforts for the internally displaced persons and hasten our recovery, rehabilitation and reconstruction of the affected areas,” the chief executive further said even as she assured the public that as mayor “it is my primary responsibility to ensure that justice is served and must be served.”

Former trial court judge now City Legal Officer Jesus Carbon Jr. shared with the chief executive’s decision to reject the plea bargaining proposal of the MNLF, saying that it would really be insensitive for the city government to agree to any plea bargaining with the MNLF.

Under the proposal, Carbon explained, the MNLF leaders will plead guilty to the crime of sedition which is punishable by prision mayor or 6 years and one day to eight years prison term, while the followers will only be punished, if found guilty, by prision correccional or two years, two months and 1 day to six years in prison.

“This would really be disproportional to the damage the accused MNLF members had done to the city. So many died, so many homes were destroyed, so many persons displaced and it would really be insensitive for the city to plea bargain with the MNLF,” Carbon said.

He insisted the MNLF members should really be charged with rebellion and IHL violation which calls for the penalty of reclusion perpetua of life imprisonment even as he admitted that it would really take so much time for the judge to hear or try the cases considering the number of the accused and the number of witnesses not to mention the truckloads of evidence like guns and ammunitions recovered from the accused themselves. — Vic Larato