DOJ prepares 30 Manila prosecutors for Maute trial
DOJ prepares 30 Manila prosecutors for Maute trial
Charges of rebellion against members of the terrorist group will be heard continuously – in Metro Manila, if the High Court grants the DOJ's request

MANILA, Philippines – Justice Secretary Vitaliano Aguirre II said on Wednesday, June 28, he is preparing at least 30 prosecutors to train for the expected marathon trial of members of the Maute group who will be charged with rebellion.

“We are already choosing at least 30 prosecutors for them to undergo training on continuous trial in these rebellion cases. They will train even before the Supreme Court (SC) resolves our petition,” Aguirre said.

The SC has yet to decide on Aguirre’s request to transfer the venue of prosecution and trial as well as the detention of Maute members from Cagayan de Oro City to Metro Manila, although the secretary earlier said Chief Justice Maria Lourdes Sereno appeared inclined to approve it.

Charges of rebellion against the Maute members will be heard in a continuous trial system, where postponements are prohibited unless on exceptional grounds. Hearings will last the entire day too from Monday to Thursday.

Judges will also have to promulgate the decision 90 days after the case has been submitted for decision.

Aguirre said two panels will be created with 15 prosecutors each. Aguirre’s original request to the SC was to designate a court either in the Visayas or Mindanao to handle Maute cases, but the High Court instead went for Cagayan de Oro City, a city in Marawi’s neighboring province.

Aguirre said not only are prosecutors in Cagayan de Oro worried for their safety, the military base there serving as detention place for the arrested Maute members, Camp Evangelista, is also not properly equipped to secure such high-profile detainees.

He said Camp Evangelista does not have enough funds for the food and other needs of Maute members.

Aguirre had a meetting with Sereno on June 19 where the Chief Justice supposedly expressed her support for the transfer plan.

“My meeting with CJ Lourdes Sereno just ended, we had a good chat. So, in all probability, instead of… rather than holding the trial at the Taguig RTC, it can be held right inside the jail facilities so it’ll be more secure, so they don’t have to go to the Taguig RTC. It can be held right inside the SICA (Special Intensive Care Area),” Aguirre said in Filipino on June 19.

SC spokesman Theodore Te had to clarify that Sereno cannot unilaterally decide on the request and that it has to be the SC en banc that will issue the decision, which it has not done yet.

Te also said Sereno asked Aguirre to submit supplemental documents to support his request. –

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