Aguirre to SC: Let Luzon, Visayas courts handle Maute cases
MANILA, Philippines – If and when cases are filed against members of the Maute terror group in connection with the crisis in Marawi City, Justice Secretary Vitaliano Aguirre II wants special courts in Luzon and Visayas – not Mindanao – to handle them. This is to protect members of the judiciary from threats.
In a statement issued on Wednesday, May 31, Aguirre said he has formally requested Chief Justice Maria Lourdes Sereno to designate the special courts in Luzon and Visayas to handle Maute cases.
Aguirre said that it's "to protect our judges and the judicial system from possible threats and acts of violence."
Normally, cases are filed and tried in a trial court in the same location where the crime was committed – in this case, in Mindanao.
But the Supreme Court (SC) has the constitutional authority to "order a change of venue or place of trial to avoid a miscarriage of justice."
Aguirre said he sent a letter to Sereno on May 29 "to take the necessary and appropriate actions for the protection of the members of the judiciary who will eventually hear the cases to be filed against the members of the Maute Group who will be captured or who will surrender."
In 2010, the SC approved a similar request from the Department of Justice (DOJ) and transferred the rebellion cases against members of the Ampatuan clan from the Cotabato City Regional Trial Court (RTC) to the Quezon City RTC.
In 2011, the SC named QC RTC Branch 221 as the special court which shall exclusively hear cases connected to the Maguindanao massacre of 2009.
The SC said then that they ordered a change of venue due to the influence of the Ampatuan clan in the original area.
Aguirre has also sent Undersecretary Renanto Orceo to Iligan to oversee the creation of a special panel of prosecutors to handle cases which may be filed against members of the Maute terror group and other groups tagged as terrorists. – Rappler.com