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SC clarifies: Maute group's cases to stay in Cagayan de Oro for now

Supreme Court spokesperson Theodore Te clarified that Chief Justice Maria Lourdes Sereno has not yet approved the letter request of Justice Secretary Aguirre to transfer the cases of the Maute Group to Taguig City Regional Trial Court.

MANILA, Philippines — Supreme Court spokesperson Theodore Te on Monday clarified that Chief Justice Maria Lourdes Sereno has not yet approved the letter request of Justice Secretary Vitaliano Aguirre to transfer the cases of the Maute Group to the Taguig City Regional Trial Court.

Te made the clarification after Aguirre announced that persons charged with rebellion over the Marawi crisis will be detained at the Camp Bagong Diwa detention facility. He added that the trial will also be held in the same area.

Aguirre also said he met with Sereno on Monday morning and they “agreed that they could establish at least two courtrooms” for the charged persons.

“It's better na talagang diyan na sa Taguig para yung military role ng Camp Evangelista will be concentrated dun sa Marawi siege,” Aguirre was quoted by reporters.

Te, however, denied Aguirre’s claims saying that the SC en banc has not issued a resolution regarding his two-page letter yet.

“‘Yung resolution ng Supreme Court ordering the transfer of the court to Cagayan De Oro, the designation of the Cagayan De Oro court to try and handle the Maute group’s incidents stay. The court has not yet acted or granted the secretary’s letter,” Te told reporters.

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Te also said the resolution of the Justice department’s letter is usually being done in an en banc session. He said there was no en banc session last week because the high tribunal conducted a three-day oral argument on the petitions against the martial law declaration in Mindanao.

Despite this, Te confirmed that Aguirre and Sereno met to discuss the request.

“What I know about the meeting earlier between the secretary and the chief justice is that the chief justice discussed the letter of the secretary with him and I think their agreement was that the secretary would supplement the letter which hopefully will be submitted in time for the en banc session tomorrow,” Te said.

“It’s an en banc resolution and therefore only the court can grant the reconsideration if inclined,” he reiterated, clarifying that the chief justice cannot approve the Justice department's request alone.

Last week, Aguirre asked the SC to consider the Taguig RTC as the venue for trial for the cases against Maute terrorists and their supporters. He insisted that there security risks in holding the trial in Mindanao and mentioned that Camp Evangelista does not have the proper detention facilities to accommodate the members of the Maute group

Aguirre also said there are threats against the judges and prosecutors handling the case.

Among the charged persons are Maute clan martriarch Ominta Romato-Maute alias Farhana and 11 others as well as former Marawi City Mayor Fajad Salic.

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