DOJ frees Marawi Vice Mayor, arrest based on invalid list
MANILA, Philippines – The Department of Justice (DOJ) on Friday, March 15, released Marawi City Vice Mayor Arafat Salic who was arrested on March 13 over alleged rebellion charges stemming from the Marawi siege in 2017.
It turned out that law enforcement authorities carried out a warrantless arrest against Salic on the basis of a September 4, 2017 list that has since been revoked.
Senior Assistant State Prosecutor Peter Ong said on Friday that the arrest order issued by Defense Secretary Delfin Lorenzana in September 2017 was already invalid.
At the height of the siege, Lorenzana as martial law administrator issued Arrest Orders that listed people suspected of having links to the Maute group. The legality of those arrest orders were debated at the time, since they were not issued by courts.
A warrantless arrest is allowed under conditions set by the rules of criminal procedure – when the person commits the crime in the presence of the officer, or when there is probable cause to believe a crime has just been committed, or if it is a prisoner escaping from jail.
When a warrantless arrest is made, the person is brought for inquest so the prosecutor can rule on the validity of the arrest.
Ong scolded Salic’s police escorts on Friday, saying that there was no basis to arrest the Vice Mayor.
“He was not committing an offense at that time, March 13, he was not about to commit any offense, he has not just committed an offense,” Ong said.
He continued: “This cannot be accepted as an inquest case. Please do not do that. Magkakasama tayo sa trabaho, magkakahiyaan tayo (We are partners in this job but let's not embarrass ourselves). Do not insist on what is wrong.”
Instead, Ong accepted the filing of a complaint against Salic which they will set for a regular preliminary investigation (PI).
“Vice, ang pagpapalaya sa 'yo pansamantala lang 'yan. If after ng PI, kung 'yan sa tingin namin dapat ikulong ulit, kulong ulit (Vice, your freedom is temporary for now. If after the PI we see that you need to be jailed again, then you will be jailed again),” said Ong.
Salic, through his lawyer Nabil Mutia, denied links to the Maute terror group, and involvement in the drug trade.
Salic was earlier named as a drug-linked politician by President Rodrigo Duterte. He was included in Duterte's notorious drug list published in August 2016.
“Kinausap ko siya at sabi niya wala naman talaga siya kinalaman diyan. Mahirap sumagot sa accusation na hindi pa namin nakikita 'yung basis nila kung bakit nila isinama si Vice Mayor,” Mutia said.
(I talked to him and he said he really has no involement there. It's difficult to answer an accusation when we haven't seen what the basis for including the Vice Mayor.) – Rappler.com