MANILA, Philippines – The Regional Trial Court of Quezon City has convicted an alleged Maute terrorist of illegal possession of a hand grenade and sentenced him to reclusion perpetua or a maximum of 40 years in prison.
In a 20-page decision issued by Branch 92 Presiding Judge Eleuterio Bathan, the trial court did not give weight to the defense of Unday Macadato that his arrest was illegal, and that he was not Unday Macadato.
Bathan said that Macadato’s warrantless arrest was legal because he was caught “in flagrante” or in the act of doing something wrong.
“His warrantless arrest was legal, because at the time of the warrantless arrest, accused Unday was executing an overt act indicating that he was actually committing an offense done in the presence and within the view of the arresting officer, and that is loading his pistol and thereafter inserted said pistol in his body bag,” the decision read.
Bathan also said that the discovery and confiscation of the hand grenade and the handkerchief bearing the ISIS logo were justified under the concept of warrantless search, incidental to a lawful warrantless arrest.
The judge said: “As regards accused line of defense that his warrantless arrest was illegal and nothing was taken from him during his arrest is of no moment and will not hold water. His claim that nothing was taken from him during the arrest is unbelievable.”
“From his very testimony, he claimed that a driver’s license was taken from him. He is not telling the truth, because according to him, his driver’s license was taken from him by the arresting officers,” he added.
Macadato alias Solaiman Omar was arrested without a warrant in Cubao on May 7, 2018, based on information from locals that he bragged about his connection to the Maute terror group.
He was arrested ahead of the first anniversary of the Marawi siege instigated by the Maute Group. Authorities said they also found on Macadato a short firearm and a black flag with an ISIS logo which he claimed were planted.
The court also debunked the claim of Macadato that he was not the Unday Macadato that police searched for. The court cited witnesses, including his supposed relatives based in Quezon City, who corroborated cops' statements about his identity.
“He should have asked his relatives who are residents of Fairview and Cubao to testify in his favor proving his good character that could save him from the charged,” the judge said.
“Denial is inherently a weak defense which cannot outweigh positive testimony. As between a categorical statement that has the same earmarks of truth on the one hand and bare denial, on the other, the former is generally held to prevail,” he added.
Macadato was not charged with terrorism but Bathan outlined his alleged involvement in the Maute Group. He is included in the list of personalities being sought by authorities for rebellion, under Martial Law Instruction No. 1 dated September 2017. – Rappler.com