MANILA – The Department of Justice will form two to four new panels of prosecutors to handle the cases involving the Maute Group, which led the Marawi siege on May 23 and whose remnants are still fighting government forces in Mindanao.
The DOJ made the move after it got the Supreme Court to approve the transfer of trials to the Taguig Regional Trial Court instead of Cagayan de Oro, on fears raised by the DOJ about the vulnerability of Cagayan de Oro to security risks, including attacks from Maute remnants or other groups sympathetic to them.
According to Justice Secretary Vitaliano Aguirre, each of the new panels to be formed will have five prosecutors to handle a case.
Meanwhile, Aguirre was assured by the Department of Interior and Local Government that the two courtrooms designated by the SC inside the special intensive care area (SICA) in Camp Bagong Diwa are now ready.
“We are going to reconstitute [the panels] at saka ready na ‘yun [and it’s ready]. I was talking to the OIC-Secretary of DILG, [Catalino] Uy, and he said the two courtrooms inside SICA [are ready].”
Aguirre said he hopes the trial of the Mautes and their cohorts will begin soon.
Meanwhile, the DOJ was advised by the Supreme Court to promptly file applications for continuous trial of the Maute cases, to avoid having the process drag.
The Manila prosecutors assigned to the cases will soon undergo continuous trial, Aguirre said.