JUSTICE Secretary Vitaliano II has asked the Supreme Court (SC) to transfer the trial of the criminal charges filed against Vice Mayor Nova Princess Parojinog and her brother Reynaldo, from Ozamiz City Regional Trial Court (RTC) to Quezon City RTC.
In his letter dated August 17, Aguirre told Chief Justice Maria Lourdes Sereno that he had received reports that the judges handling the cases against the Parojinogs are inclined to inhibit due to fear of threats to their lives.
The Parojinog siblings are charged with illegal possession of firearms and drugs before the Ozamiz RTC branches 15 and 35.
"I respectfully request and implore your good office that the trial of these cases be immediately transferred from the Regional Trial Court of Ozamiz City, Misamis Occidental Branch 15 and Branch 35 to the National Capital Judicial Region, preferably the RTC of Quezon City," the letter read.
On August 8, Ozamiz RTC branch 35 Judge Salome Dungog inhibited from handling the cases citing her compulsory retirement this month.
"On the ground of compulsory retirement from public service of the Presiding Judge of this court this month—August 2017, having no more time to hear or try the cases or motions in connection thereof which require or need immediate action as well as for reason of delecadeza in order to preclude doubt or suspicion from both parties concerned …the undersigned hereby inhibits from handling the same," Dungog said in an order.
Aguirre noted that not only the judges handling the cases expressed fear for the safety but also prosecutors tasked to prosecute the cases in the Ozamiz courts.
The justice secretary said the transfer of the cases will reduce the cost of trial as the accused are currently detained at the Philippine National Police custodial center in Camp Crame, Quezon City.
The Parojinogs have been detained in the said facility since July 31.
"Transferring the venue of the trial to the National Capital Judicial Region will obviate the need for additional security personnel to be assigned to the witnesses and more BJMP (Bureau of Jail Management and Penology) security escorts for the accused, thereby reducing the costs of trial," Aguirre said.
The Parojinogs were arrested following a simultaneous predawn police operation at their residences on July 30 that killed a total of 16 people.
Among those killed were Ozamiz City Mayor Reynaldo and his wife Susan. (SunStar Philippines)