Justice Secretary: Marawi cases most likely tried in Taguig

Metro Manila (CNN Philippines, June 19) — The cases of arrested members of the Maute terror group will most likely take place in Taguig following approval from the Supreme Court, the Department of Justice said.

Justice Secretary Vitaliano Aguirre said he met with Chief Justice Maria Lourdes Sereno on Monday. 

Aguirre said Sereno agreed the trial of these cases should be held in courtrooms inside Camp Bagong Diwa in Taguig, where all persons charged in relation to the siege in Marawi which began on May 23 are being held.

"One of the reasons na binigay [ni Sereno] is that siguro it's better na talagang diyan na sa Taguig para 'yung military role ng Camp Evangelista will be concentrated du'n sa Marawi siege," Aguirre said in an interview, referring to the military's camp in Cagayan de Oro City.

[Translation: One of the reasons why Sereno granted my request is that maybe it's better to try the cases in Taguig so that the military role of Camp Evangelista will be concentrated on the Marawi siege.]

This way, respondents need not be brought to the Taguig Regional Trial Court during hearings.

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"We agreed that we hope that we could establish at least two courtrooms," he added.

Earlier today, Aguirre wrote Sereno a follow-up to his request to transfer the trial of Marawi cases to the Regional Trial Court of Taguig.

He also repeated his request for the apprehended members of the Maute group to be detained in Camp Bagong Diwa's Special Intensive Care Area while the cases are being heard.

But Supreme Court spokesman Theodore Te, however, said the high court has yet to act on the DOJ's appeal in an en banc session on Tuesday.

"Kung may letter na gano'n, pag-uusapan nila 'yan during the en banc. Until the en banc says otherwise, the resolution stands," Te said in an interview.

[Translation: If there's such a letter to appeal, the judges will discuss this during the en banc. Until the en banc says otherwise, the resolution stands.]

In a letter dated May 29, Aguirre asked the Chief Justice to designate special courts in Luzon and Visayas to try cases to be filed against Maute-Daesh "in order to protect our judges and the judicial system from possible threats and acts of violence".

But the Supreme Court's resolution on June 13 designated the Regional Trial Court of Cagayan de Oro to hear and try the cases involving the terror group's attempt to take over Marawi City.

The Supreme Court also designated the Court of Appeals in Cagayan de Oro to hear all cases related to violations of RA 9372, or the Human Security Act, which aims to penalize acts of terrorism in the country.

Aguirre also said he will reorganize the prosecution panel that will handle Marawi siege cases as they will all have to come from Manila. Those previously assigned to the cases are from Cagayan de Oro.