Celso opposes transfer of ASG trial venue to Zambo PDF Print E-mail
Wednesday, 24 April 2013 15:04

Mayor Celso Lobregat has expressed strong objections to the proposed transfer of the trail venue of some 50 suspected Abu Sayyaf Group (ASG) members from the Regional Trial Court in Basilan to the RTC in Zamboanga stressing that the same will pose “imminent, clear and present danger to the residents of the city”.

This, as Lobregat on Monday (April 22) wrote Hon. Peter Medalle, OIC of the Office of the Regional State Prosecutor at the Department of Justice-9, urging the immediate filing of a petition requesting the Supreme Court to change the venue of the trial of the cases outside of Zamboanga City, preferably to headquarters Camp Crame or in Camp Bagong Diwa, in Taguig, Manila to ensure tranquillity, security and peace and order of the city.

Lobregat said Camp Crame or Camp Bagong Diwa in Manila has been the trial venue in past ASG cases and is where the facilities for hardened and high risk criminals are well secured.

Per information received by the mayor, aside from holding trials of ASG cases at the RTC in Zamboanga, the 50 suspected ASG members shall be temporarily detained at the Zamboanga City Reformatory Center (ZCRC) until the completion of the trial of their criminal cases.

“If you recall in the past, several cases have been filed against suspected ASG members involved in various criminal activities. The City Government and its residents had always opposed the trial of these cases in Zamboanga City on the grounds that the presence of these suspected ASG members pose imminent and clear and present danger to the lives of residents of the city considering that members of this notorious and extreme dangerous terrorist group pose a high security risk to the people of Zamboanga”, Lobregat stressed.

In his letter to Judge Medalle, Lobregat attached letters of City Police OIC Director P/SSupt. Edwin de Ocampo and ZCRC OIC Jail Warden J/CInsp. Julius Arro seeking the mayor’s intervention to reverse the Supreme Court decision citing among others congestion at the ZCRC and that description of the suspected ASG members as high risk inmates.

Hon.De Ocampo said that the “temporary detention in Zamboanga City of the suspects who are considered “hard core” and “high risk” criminals charged for heinous crimes is tantamount to extreme security risks as rescue attempts might be undertaken by their comrades at any opportune time aggravated by the lack of facilities at the ZCRC which lack the “maximum security cell” intended for high risk individuals like them”.

“This clearly poses a clear and present danger and is certainly a high security risk to the City and its residents and shall surely lead to miscarriage of jutice”, de Ocampo said in his   letter to Mayor Lobregat, as he recommended that the transfer be done to other detention facilities outside the city preferably Camp Crame or Camp Bagong Diwa. “It should be noted that  previous cases of similar nature involving suspected ASG members were transferred to those facilities for proper dispensation of justice.”

Arro in his letter to the mayor requested the transfer of the suspected ASG members to the Special Intensive Care Area in Bicutan, Taguig City. “It can be recalled that this unit is heavily undermanned and lack sophisticated armaments to effectively ensure the security of these individuals. Besides, we are heavily congested. Their presence will certainly pose a threat not only to the security of inmates, personnel and visitors per se, but also to all peace-loving people of this city”.

Lobregat said no official communication has been received regarding the said transfer but stressed that immediate actions have been made as soon as the information regarding the plan reached City Hall. — Sheila Covarrubias