City gov’t laments DOJ’s nod to MNLF plea bargaining offer PDF Print E-mail
Wednesday, 22 June 2016 13:27

By VIC LARATO

The city government bewailed what appeared as an agreement of the Department of Justice (DoJ) to the plea bargaining proposal of the Moro National Liberation Front (MNLF) members, who have been accused of rebellion and violations of the International Humanitarian Law (IHL) for staging the September 2013 attack on Zamboanga City.

City Legal Officer Atty. Jesus C. Carbon Jr. told the press briefing Monday that he deliberately skipped the hearing on the MNLF cases last June 16-17 at the regional trial court in Pasig because he had no copy yet of the DoJ’s counter offer to the plea bargaining proposal.

“I felt it would be useless for us to be there when we didn’t have in our possession the counter proposal of DoJ to the plea bargaining offer of the accused MNLF members,” Carbon said.

He received a copy of the DoJ’s counter offer only last Monday morning (just before the press briefing).

“It is disheartening to note that as if there is an agreement (by DoJ) to reduce the charges (rebellion) to illegal assembly for at least 150 accused MNLFs and for them to plead guilty to being accessories to IHL violations,” the city legal officer said.

Carbon, a former regional trial court judge, believed that illegal assembly and accessories to IHL violations are penalized with a prison term of only three years, after which the accused can be freed from jail.

He further said the DoJ’s counter offer also favors the possibility of granting the accused with parole.

But he countered that a parole would not be necessary, considering that the penalty of the charges in the plea bargaining proposal is only an imprisonment of at least three years.

“The accused have already served three years in prison since the siege in 2013,” Atty. Carbon said.

According to him, the DoJ was of the belief that there was not enough evidence to pin down the MNFs for rebellion and direct violations of the IHL. — Vic Larato