LAWYERS and lawmakers in Cagayan de Oro City and Misamis Oriental are set to ask the Supreme Court (SC) to direct the transfer of detention and hearing of all rebellion cases of Maute family members and other captured extremists from this city to Metro Manila or elsewhere.
The Integrated Bar of the Philippines (IBP)-Misamis Oriental Chapter already submitted on Monday, June 12, a resolution addressed to the High Court strongly opposing the holding of trials in the city.
READ: IBP-Misamis Oriental supports martial law in Mindanao
The IBP-Misamis Oriental resolution said: "It is alarmed over the decision of the SC considering the proximity of Cagayan de Oro to Marawi City and security concerns and risks involved while hearing the case."
"There are relatives and families of Maute group in Cagyan de Oro which might add outside pressure while the case would heard in the courts of Cagayan de Oro City," the resolution said.
Lawyer Eddie Cuaresma, IBP-Misamis Oriental president, said the city is not prepared to hear the cases considering the proximity and security of all concerns.
Cuaresma said he is positive that the SC would consider its decision and have the trials held outside the city.
"Lisod kaayo diri kay wala man tay korte nanghulos raman ta sa city hall man tong sa Manila or Cebu kay layo (It’s difficult here ‘cause we have no court. We only use city hall, instead. It’s better in Manila or Cebu ‘cause they’re far)," Cuaresma said.
The Provincial Board of Misamis Oriental signified its support for the move of the IBP as they are also set to submit their own resolution to the High Court.
Board Member Gerardo Sabal said the Provincial Board approved a resolution in the last session requesting the SC for the change of venue citing security issues.
"Pirma na lang kulang para ma-send na ang atong resolution (We only need a signature to submit the resolution)," Sabal said.
Cagayan de Oro City Councilor Teodulfo Lao Jr., the City Council’s assistant majority floor leader, said he will be delivering a privilege speech on Monday, June 19, asking the SC to reconsider its decision.
Lao said as soon as the resolution is approved by the body, the same would be sent to SC immediately.
Lao pointed out that courts have been hearing cases on borrowed space at the City Hall after the city’s Hall of Justice burned down some two years ago.
"Kung tan-awon nimo atong security diha sa mga court sa city hall, naa ang vulnerability sa mga whatever undertakings sa mga terrorists kay duol ra gyud kaayo ta sa Marawi (If you look at our security in courts at city hall, there is vulnerability in whatever undertakings by the terrorists because we are so near in Marawi)," Lao said.
Business chambers based in Northern Mindanao also united in opposition to the SC decision to hear the cases of suspected Maute Group members here.
In a joint resolution released by the Coalition of Chambers in Misamis Oriental and Northern Mindanao to the media Friday, the group expressed its opposition to the trying of the rebellion case in this city.
The coalition noted that commercial activities have already been affected by the ongoing conflict in Marawi now on its third week.
“The business community of Cagayan de Oro had some huge losses with an estimated of P200 million or more due to lost opportunities, cancellations of bookings and backing out potential investors since the beginning of the Siege in Marawi City and the declaration of the Martial Law,” read a part of the resolution.
The city’s business sector, it said, is apprehensive on the planned trial as it will bring forth additional security concerns, fear for residents, and as deterrent for investors to come over.
“The recent travel advisories of several countries to travel in Mindanao already affected a lot of our industries in the region and might be extended if the hearing the cases is granted,” the group added.
The resolution was signed Robertino Pizarro, Oro Chamber president; Adelfa Sia, MOFCCCI president; Willy Limbonhai, CDO FFCCCII president; Roberto Quicio, COCI president; and Efren Uy, regional governor, PCCI-Northern Mindanao.
The Coalition of Chambers in Misamis Oriental and Northern Mindanao is composed of Cagayan de Oro Chamber of Commerce and Industry Foundation Inc., Misamis Oriental Filipino Chinese Chamber of Commerce and Industry, Federation of Filipino-Chinese Chambers of Commerce and Industry, Inc. CDO, Cagayan de Oro Chamber of Industries, and the Philippine Chamber of Commerce and Industry in Northern Mindanao.