Armed Forces of the Philippines

Army expects court martial vs Durante, 6 other soldiers after Plaza slay

Sofia Tomacruz

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Army expects court martial vs Durante, 6 other soldiers after Plaza slay

VICTIM AND SUSPECT. Murder victim Yvonette Chua-Plaza and Army Brigadier General Jesus Durante III, identified by police as the alleged mastermind.

The Philippine Army is starting to look for members who would constitute a general court martial to try Brigadier General Jesus Durante III and other soldiers linked to the killing of Yvonette Chua-Plaza

MANILA, Philippines – Lieutenant General Romeo Brawner Jr. said the Philippine Army is anticipating court martial proceedings against Brigadier General Jesus Durante III and six other soldiers for their alleged involvement in the killing of Davao businesswoman Yvonette Chua-Plaza.

Brawner, the army’s commanding general, ordered the formation of a general court martial after an internal board of inquiry that investigated Plaza’s killing recommended trying Durante and the other soldiers in a military court.

“At my level…I still have to ask the JAGO (Judge Advocate General Office) to review it, but I already issued an order, I ordered them to start looking for members to constitute the GCM (general court martial),” Brawner told reporters in a mix of Filipino and English on Sunday, January 29.

Brawner said recommendations from the JAGO may be available as soon as this week.

Davao police earlier linked Durante and seven other individuals, including six soldiers, to the killing of Plaza, calling her murder a “crime of passion.”

An investigation conducted by local police showed Plaza allegedly had sensitive information against Durante, and supposedly planned to use it to blackmail him.

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Brawner earlier said the army had taken custody of Durante, after he was relieved of his command of the 1001st Brigade in Davao de Oro. The army also has custody of Colonel Michael Licyayo, who Davao police tagged as an accomplice of Durante.

Other soldiers, meanwhile, are under the custody of the Philippine National Police, though the final arrangement in relation to custody is still under discussion with the PNP. 

Once convened, the court martial is expected to look into the administrative aspect of Durante and other soldiers’ alleged actions, while civil courts are expected to handle criminal proceedings.

The PNP earlier filed a murder complaint against Durante, the six other soldiers, and three other men for the death of Plaza. –

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Sofia Tomacruz

Sofia Tomacruz covers defense and foreign affairs. Follow her on Twitter via @sofiatomacruz.