By Jeffrey Damicog
Arrested members of the Maute terrorist group could be tried inside the detention facility of the Special Intensive Care Area (SICA) of Camp Bagong Diwa in Taguig City.
Justice Secretary Vitaliano Aguirre II said this possibility was discussed during his meeting yesterday (June 19) morning with Supreme Court (SC) Chief Justice Maria Lourdes Sereno.
“Magandan naman napagusapan namin. So, in all probability, instead of moving trial at the Taguig RTC (Regional Trial Court), doon na mismo sa loob ng jail,” Aguirre told reporters after his visit to Sereno at her office at the SC.
“Para mas secure so hindi na pupunta don sa Taguig RTC. Doon na mismo sa loob ng sica,” he added.
The Secretary noted that many arrested members of the Maute have already been transferred to the SICA including clan patriarch Cayamora Maute and his first wife, matriarch Ominta Romato Maute.
Last June 6, the SC turned down Aguirre’s request to create special courts for the Maute outside Mindanao and instead appointed the Cagayan de Oro City RTC “to hear, try, and decide all cases and incidents arising from the Maute Group takeover of Marawi City.”
However, due to security concerns in Cagayan de Oro City, the Secretary sent two letters dated June 14 and 15 to Sereno asking that “the Regional Trial Court in Taguig City be designed as the court to try, and decide all cases and incidents arising from the Maute takeover of Marawi City.”
During Monday’s meeting, Aguirre said they discussed also the possibility of having two court rooms at the SICA and holding continuous trials.
“We agreed that we hope we could establish at least two courtrooms sa loob,” he said.
“We expect maraming detention prisoners and continuous trial ang gusto ni CJ,” said Aguirre.
The trial of the Maguindanao massacre involving the deaths of 58 persons mostly journalists still continue to be held inside the SICA.
Because of the number Maute members expected to face prosecution, the Secretary was also asked by Sereno if the Bureau of Corrections (BuCor) has the facilities at the New Bilibid Prisons (NBP) to accommodate terrorists once convicted.
“Alam ko medyo sikip na sila doon kaya am looking to establish building 15 na pwede paglagyan para ma decongest itong main NBP facilities,” he disclosed.
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