THE Justice department has filed rebellion charges against 11 people, including the mother of the Maute brothers who are behind the attack on Marawi City.
State prosecutors on Tuesday indicted Ominta Romato Maute, a.k.a. Farhana, mother of Omar and Abdullah Maute; the former mayor of Marawi, Fajad Salic; and nine others before the Misamis Oriental regional trial court.
The charges were filed after prosecutors found probable cause that the accused had connived with the Maute group “actively engaged in an armed rebellion against the government,” Justice Secretary Vitaliano Aguirre II said Wednesday.
Defense Secretary Delfin Lorenzana, the martial law administrator of Mindanao, has described Farhana as the Maute group’s adviser and financier, given her “vast financial resources drawn locally and abroad.”
Farhana is the first wife of Cayamora Maute, who was arrested at a checkpoint in Davao City on June 6. On Friday, she was arrested in Masiu, Lanao del Sur, along with two wounded Maute group members.
On May 23, Maute group terrorists went on a rampage in Marawi City, flying the black Islamic State flag over parts of the city, killing civilians, taking hostages and occupying buildings. In response, President Rodrigo Duterte declared martial law in Mindanao, saying that the Maute group wants to establish a province for the terrorist Islamic State (ISIS) group.
The government has ordered the arrest of more than 300 Maute group and Abu Sayyaf members and sympathizers.
On Wednesday, the Misamis Oriental chapter of the Integrated Bar of the Philippines expressed alarm that the regional trial court in Cagayan de Oro has been designated to handle the Maute rebellion cases.
The group supported a Justice department appeal to the Supreme Court to transfer the cases to another venue because of the proximity of Cagayan de Oro to Marawi City, where fighting between Maute group terrorists and government troopers has raged into the third week.
The lawyers said Cagayan De Oro has no facility to effectively handle the cases, since the courts are still temporarily housed in the City Tourism Hall, after the Hall of Justice was gutted by fire in January 2015.
The IBP chapter also revealed that there are relatives and families of Maute Group members in the city “which might add outside pressure” on the courts.
Earlier, Aguirre had asked the Supreme Court to designate special courts in Luzon or the Visayas to hear the cases due to security threats in Mindanao.
But the Court designated the Cagayan de Oro regional trial courts to try the cases instead.
The Court also assigned the military’s Camp Evangelista in the same city to serve as the detention center for the arrested suspects.
On Monday, the DoJ started inquest proceedings for rebellion against Maute clan matriach Ominta Romato-Maute, alias Farhana, and 11 others in connection with the Marawi City siege.
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