9 terror suspects transferred from Davao to Taguig

DAVAO CITY (MindaNews / 12 Feb) – Seven alleged members of the Islamic State-inspired Maute group and two suspected members of the Abu Sayyaf were transferred on Sunday from Davao City Jail in Maa, Davao City to Camp Bagong Diwa in Bicutan, Taguig City.

This after the Supreme Court approved the requests of the Bureau of Jail Management and Penology-Davao, City Peace and Order Council, City Prosecutor’s Office and Defense Secretary Delfin Lorenzana for the transfer of detention and venue of trial for the “high-risk inmates”.

Their cases will now be heard by the Regional Trial Court (RTC) in Taguig.

Students of the Ateneo de Davao University and other Dabawenyos offer flowers, candles and prayers at Ground Zero of the Roxas night market on Monday, September 5, 2016, three days after an explosion that killed 15 persons and injured 69 others. MindaNews file photo by Carolyn O. Arguillas

The seven alleged Maute members are Wendel A. Facturan, Musali U. Mustapha, TJ T. Macabalang, Zack Jaron V. Lopez, Jessy Vincent G. Original, Jackson M. Usi and Alisa A. Mamasapano. The suspected Abu Sayyaf members are Arkam Isnaji and Fauzia Abdulla.

In a statement released to media, BJMP 11 director JSSupt. Amelia A. Rayandayan said the seven Maute suspects are charged with terrorism and multiple murder with multiple frustrated murder for the Roxas Night Market bombing on September 2, 2016 that killed 15 people and injured 69 others.

Isnaji and Abdulla are accused of kidnapping with homicide for the abduction of John Ridsdel, Norwegian Kjartan Sekkingstad, Robert Hall and his Filipina partner, Marites Flor, who were taken from Holiday Ocean View Resort in Samal, Davao del Norte on September 21, 2015.

Canadian nationals Ridsdel and Hall were executed on April 25 and June 13, 2016 for non-payment of ransom. Flor was released on June 27, 2016, and Sekkingstad on September 16.

Citing the SC resolution dated November 22, 2017 and received by the RTC here on January 22, City Prosecutor Nestor Ledesma said in an interview Monday that the highest court granted the requests for transfer of detention and trial because “the continued detention of the accused in Davao City increases the likelihood of their comrades staging a rescue attempt endangering lives of BJMP personnel and people residing near the place of detention.”

Ledesma said the SC, in its resolution dated August 8, 2017, designated RTC branches 70 and 266 in Taguig as special courts “to hear, try and decide cases and incidents arising from and in related to the Maute takeover of Marawi City regardless of the presence or involvement of minors in said cases and incidents.”

He added that the SC allowed the same courts to try the cases related to the bombing in Davao City.

Ledesma explained that while it is true that the alleged Maute members are facing charges for an incident that took place prior to the Marawi siege on May 23, 2017, “there are members of Maute Group involved in these cases who are still at large and may also be involved in the takeover of Marawi City.”

RTC branch 33 that tried the murder cases and RTC branch 17 that tried the terrorism charges had forwarded their records to the RTC in Taguig on February 9 and January 26, respectively.

Jinsp, Edo Lobenia, spokesperson of BJMP 11, said their Special Tactics and Response Team led the transfer of the nine detainees. They were joined by personnel from Task Force Davao and PNP-Highway Patrol Group Region 11.

“High-risk inmates like the Maute and Abu Sayaff need maximum security as they are known to be risky personalities and may be targets for rescue by their associates or even assassination attempts as some of them may have made ardent enemies prior to their incarceration,” he said. (Antonio L. Colina IV/MindaNews)