BANGSAMORO Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (Barmm) prosecutors expressed support for the Department of Justice (DOJ) Department Circular (DC) No. 20, the strengthening of the prosecutors’ involvement in the buildup of cases.
With the orientation on the DOJ’s DC No. 20 for Maguindanao del Norte’s law enforcement agencies at the Apo View Hotel, prosecutors interviewed by SunStar Davao emphasized the need for the collaboration of both the prosecutors and the law enforcers in conducting investigations.
“Ang pinaka-aim nito (The aim of the circular) is to strengthen the cases we file in court, to give assurance to the law enforcement that once you file these cases to the court we have a very high chance of winning, securing convictions,” Barmm Regional Prosecutor Rohairah Lao said in an interview.
Lao also stressed the crucial role of prosecutors in requiring and assisting the complainants and law enforcement agencies in gathering evidence in court. She also said police must be ready in seeking the help of the prosecutors.
Meanwhile, Provincial Prosecutor for Maguindanao del Norte Abdinsa Sultan noted his support for the circular and said that seminars like this will equip and prepare both law enforcers and prosecutors to expedite the processing of cases.
“The aim of this DC 20 is to ensure more conviction in favor of the government, this only implies that this is a clear display of this present administration to curb criminal organizations in our country,” Sultan said.
Meanwhile, Police Regional Office (PRO)-BAR Director Police Colonel Sultan Salman Sapal emphasized that close coordination of prosecutors and police is important in strengthening the filing of cases.
“With the advent of DC 20 maraming pwedeng naidagdag na mga makapagpapaganda sa filing ng cases, like kailangan may certainty of conviction tayo and maraming naka-outline na additional duon sa kautusan ng ating batas (there are many provisions in the circular that can improve the filing of cases, like the need for certainty of conviction and the many other inclusions that were outlined as additional provisions in our law),” Salman said.
“Mapapaganda na iyong takbo ng investigation... magiging airtight na ang investigation natin para sa siguradong magiging successful iyong filing of cases (The investigation will improve...our investigation will become airtight for a guaranteed successful filing of cases),” he added.
Meanwhile, Maguindanao del Norte Governor Abdulraof Macacua assures the coordination of police and prosecutors will be good and effective in expediting the processing of cases and achieving peace in the future with this DC 20 advancement.
“Kung ang lahat magkakasundo, and all enforcers and prevailers of justice, magkakasundo, doon sila mapupunta sa sinasabi nilang integridad ng pag-iimplement (If all of them will coordinate with one another, they will become good and honored implementers of law), there’s no reason that they cannot do the main objective of this law,” Macacua said.
The DOJ had issued a circular requiring prosecutors to take on a “proactive involvement” in investigations being conducted by law enforcers to ensure convictions.
However, the scope of the circular can only be limited to the prosecution of "heinous crimes," which includes offenses such as murder, rape, plunder, kidnapping, and serious illegal detention, among others.
Additionally, it covers illegal drug charges under the Comprehensive Dangerous Drugs Act, violations of the Anti-Terrorism Act, Terrorism Financing Prevention and Suppression Act, Anti-Money Laundering Act, and other capital offenses punishable by life imprisonment. Prosecutors are specifically directed to focus their active involvement in cases falling within these categories during the case buildup phase.
In Department Circular No. 20 issued on March 31, the DOJ directed all prosecutors within the National Prosecution Service to play an active role in the investigation of crimes outlined in the guidelines, especially during the case buildup phase.
The orientation was also attended by Maguindanao del Norte police officers and municipal mayors who attested their support to this circular.
The DOJ said prosecutors should be ready “to assist, coordinate and cooperate” with law enforcers in their operations, including entrapment operations, controlled deliveries, and search warrant applications.