CDO lawmakers, lawyers, buck transfer of Maute cases to their city

June 16, 2017 - 8:09 PM
Map Marawi CDO
Map shows the relative proximity to each other of Marawi City and Cagayan de Oro City.

CAGAYAN DE ORO CITY – A group of lawyers and local lawmakers here are opposing the transfer of trial of the cases involving the terrorist Maute Group here.

Earlier this month, the Supreme Court designated the Cagayan de Oro Regional Trial Court (RTC) to handle cases that will be filed against Maute, but the Integrated Bar of the Philippines-Misamis Oriental (IBP-MisOr) chapter cited safety risks considering the proximity of Cagayan de Oro to Marawi City, where Maute is locked in a violent standoff with government security forces.

IBP-MisOr said one reason for the alarm is that families and relatives of Maute group members or sympathizers might “add outside pressure” while hearing the cases.

The opposers said the city has no facility or separate judicial courts, and only uses temporary rooms such as City Hall offices for litigation hearings, in view of the burning of the Hall of Justice in January 2015.

The lawyers said the city is not prepared to accommodate the Maute cases, and suggested that the proceedings should be heard in neutral areas insulated from outside pressure or distractions, such as courts in Cebu City or Metro Manila.

Cagayan de Oro City Councilor Teodulfo Lao Jr. plans to file a resolution this coming Monday to oppose the SC order, citing security concerns on behalf of the city.

He said that City Hall, where the courts are temporarily housed, is vulnerable to whatever attacks the terror group might undertake.

He also feared that civilians might unnecessarily get involved or caught in the crossfire.

Lao said the City Council will ask the SC to reconsider its decision and hear the Maute cases instead in Manila.

Meanwhile, the Misamis Oriental Provincial Board also passed a similar resolution Friday opposing the plan to conduct the Maute hearings here.

According to the provincial board, headed by Vice Governor Jose Mari Pelaez, the hearings could disturb the peace in the whole province, and potentially endangers the safety and security of the residents here.

The provincial board members said Cagayan de Oro can become accessible to the lawless armed group and their supporters, considering its proximity to the hostilities in Marawi.

“We urge the Honorable Chief Justice to allow their detention, prosecution, and trial outside Cagayan de Oro and the province of Misamis Oriental,” the resolution said.

The resolution is to be sent to the Supreme Court, Department of Justice, and the House of Representatives.