Supreme Court denies Aguirre’s statement about Maute cases’ transfer to Taguig City

The Supreme Court clarified on June 19 that there has been no decision made yet over Justice Secretary Vitaliano Aguirre II’s request to move Maute Group cases from Cagayan de Oro City to the Taguig City Regional Trial Court.

SC Spokesman Theodore Te made the clarification to reporters after Aguirre told the media earlier on the morning of June 19 that the High Court would likely approve the transfer, based on what he surmised from his meeting with Chief Justice Maria Lourdes Sereno.
The Justice Secretary added that the arrested members of the Maute Group will be incarcerated at Camp Bagong Diwa in Taguig City and that their trial can be conducted in the camp instead of in courtrooms for security purposes.

“Katatapos lang ng meeting with CJ Lourdes Sereno, maganda naman napagusapan namin. So in all probability, instead of… rather than holding the trial at the Taguig RTC, do’n na mismo sa loob ng jail gagawin ang trial para mas secure, so hindi na pupunta do’n sa Taguig RTC, do’n na mismo sa loob ng jail ng SICA (Special Intensive Care Area),” Rappler quoted Aguirre saying.

“We agreed to establish at least two courtrooms. Sa loob ng Taguig SICA, kasi may napagusapan daw sila ni [former] Secretary Roxas noon na mag-e-establish ng courtroom sa SICA. Hindi niya (Sereno) sigurado kung nagawa ‘yun pero kahit nagawa daw ‘yun, sabi niya baka puwedeng additional one more courtroom,” he added.
Pressed on whether the said “decision” was because of his meeting with Sereno, he confirmed it.

“Do’n na rin, kaya nga titignan ko kung meron nang courtroom doon. Gusto niya (Sereno) dalawa so we would be calling the BJMP (Bureau of Jail Management and Penology) kung makakapag-establish ng other courtroom,” Aguirre said.

On June 13, Aguirre urged the SC to order the detention of Maute terrorists in Cam Bagong Diwa in Taguig City. In his two-page letter to Sereno, he presented the security risks to the escorts of the detainees, how a June 10 police convoy moving Maute detainees was ambushed, and how unsecure the temporary CDO courts were that are set up at the City Tourism Office.

Te contradicted Aguirre’s statement by saying that Chief Justice Sereno and Aguirre agreed on the latter providing a supplementary letter.

“What I know from the meeting earlier between the Secretary and Chief Justice is that the Chief Justice discussed the letter with the Secretary and I think the agreement was the Secretary would supplement the letter,” Te said.

Asked on whether the SC has already ruled in favor of the transfer to Taguig RTC, Te said the matter has not been resolved, so far.

“The designation of the Cagayan de Oro courts to try and handle the Maute Group incidents stays because the court has not yet acted or granted the Secretary’s letter asking for a consideration. It usually does that during an en banc session, but there was no en banc last week because of the oral arguments [on martial law],” he said.

He noted that Sereno could not decide on the matter alone because all the SC justices have to gather during an en banc session to rule on the matter.

“I really don’t know how they would act on it. If there’s a letter, it would be tackled during the en banc. Until they say otherwise, the resolution stands,” Te said.

Unlike Aguirre’s claim in the morning of June 19 that it is likely the Maute cases will be tried in Taguig City, SC Spokesman Te clarified SC en banc has not yet made a decision on Aguirre’s request. Aguirre later clarified to Rappler via text that his request has yet to be approved.

Sources: ( , , )

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