Zambo rejects DOJ’s plea bargaining offer PDF Print E-mail
Wednesday, 17 August 2016 14:00

By VIC LARATO

“Que serra, serra” (Whatever will be, will be)!

Zamboanga City, represented by Mayor Beng Climaco together with Vice Mayor Cesar Iturralde and members of the Sangguniang Panlungsod, will continue to oppose and reject any plea bargaining agreement that may be entered into by the Department of Justice’s (DOJ) panel of prosecutors and the Moro National Liberation Front (MNLF) leaders and members, who treacherously attacked, murdered innocent civilians, pillaged, burned and devastated the city for 21 days in September 2013.

City Legal Officer Jesus C. Carbon Jr manifested for the nth time to the Regional Trial Court in Pasig City the unequivocal and unwavering stand of Zamboanga City against plea bargaining with MNLF leaders and members accused of rebellion and two counts of violations of the International Humanitarian Law in connection with the Zamboanga siege.

Atty. Carbon and six city councilors were at the court in Pasig last Aug. 9, attending the continuation of pre-trial of the three cases against the MNLF leaders and members with Mayor Climaco as the principal complainant.

During the hearing, Carbon said, the DOJ’s panel of prosecutors submitted a counter-proposal for the 138 accused MNLFs composed of two batches.

He said for the first batch with 89 accused, the DOJ prosecutors proposed a total penalty of 3 years and 6 months for the three cases, or 1 year and 2 months for each case.

For the second batch consisting of 49 accused, the prosecution panel proposed a total penalty of 4 years, or one year and 4 months for each of the cases, according to Carbon.

The city legal officer explained that if the accused are allowed to serve the penalty in each of the cases, then they will all be released from prison upon pleading guilty considering that they have already served their sentence, having been jailed for almost three years already.

If the accused MNLFs are sentenced to serve their penalties consecutively and not simultaneously, Carbon bewailed, they will be released after serving 3 years and 6 months for the first batch, and after serving 4 years with respect for the second batch.

“The period of their detention will be counted as part of the service of their penalties,” Carbon said in a statement he prepared for the chief executive.

“The counter-proposal of the DOJ was made without the consent of Zamboanga City and the other victims of the siege,” he stressed, adding that after the hearing, the presiding judge talked with and explained to the councilors the advantages of entering into a plea bargaining agreement with the accused MNLFs.

The councilors were Atty. Kim Elago, Atty. Cesar Jimenez Sr., Atty. Rommel Agan, Jihan Edding, Elbert Atilano and Jimmy Villaflores.

The plea bargaining agreement will reduce the charges of rebellion and IHL violations, which are punishable by life imprisonment, to a lesser crime of illegal assembly with much lesser penalty of prison term for at least 4 years.

Thus, whatever will happen Zamboanga City will always oppose and reject such agreement. — Vic Larato