February 19, 2018, 7:46 pm
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2 BIFF men in arrest list killed in Maguindanao

Two members of the Bangsamoro Islamic Freedom Fighters, including a medical officer, were killed following a firefight with soldiers and policemen in Shariff Aguak town in Maguindanao on Sunday night.

The medical officer was identified as Raul Angkay alias Dok while the other slain BIFF member is yet to be identified, said Capt. Arvin Encinas, spokesman of the Army’s 6th Infantry Division.

Encinas said Angkay is included in Arrest Order No. 2 issued by Defense Secretary Delfin Lorenzana, who is also administrator of martial law in Mindanao. The list includes members of the Maute Group and other terrorist groups.

President Duterte placed the entire Mindanao under martial law on May 23 hours after the Maute Group engaged government forces in a firefight in Marawi City. The armed conflict is ongoing.

Encinas said Angkay is in the arrest order for rebellion but clarified he is not part of the Marawi City siege. 

“Arrest Order No. 2 includes personalities who are members of lawless groups such as the BIFF,” he said.

The BIFF, the Maute Group, and the Abu Sayyaf have all pledged allegiance to the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria.

Encinas said troops from the Army’s 601st and 603rd brigades, the PNP Criminal Investigation and Detection Group, and Shariff Aguak police found Angkay and one of his men in Barangay Poblacion at around 9:30 p.m. Sunday but they resisted arrested, leading to a brief firefight that led to the killing of the two BIFF men. 

Seized from the suspects’ possession were a cal. 45 pistol and a fragmentation grenade.

Encinas said cadavers of the two suspects were turned over to the police.

PNP chief Ronald dela Rosa said the declaration of martial law in Mindanao made it easy for authorities to arrest Maute Group members and their sympathizers.

Without martial law, he said, suspected Maute members or their sympathizers cannot just be arrested because a trial court has to first issue a warrant of arrest after a case has been filed.

Among those who have been arrested were Cayamora Maute, father of Omar and Abdullah Maute who are leading the Marawi siege; Farhana Maute, mother of the Maute brothers; a sister of the Maute brothers; Mohammad Noaim Maute alias Abu Jadid, Maute bomb-maker and a cousin of the Maute brothers; and former Marawi City Mayor Fajad Salic.

The Maute parents are detained in separate cells in Camp Bagong Diwa in Taguig City.

Justice Secretary Vitaliano Aguirre II said Chief Justice Maria Lourdes Sereno gave her support to his appeal for the transfer to Taguig City of the cases and detention of Maute members and their sympathizers charged with rebellion.

Aguirre made the disclosure after his meeting with Sereno at the high court where he said they agreed to hold the trial of the cases inside the Special Intensive Care Area of Camp Bagong Diwa in Bicutan, Taguig.

He said they also agreed to establish two courtrooms for the trial, adding he would be asking the PNP, the military, and the Bureau of Jail Management and Penology and the Armed Forces to see if this is feasible.

Aguirre said holding trials inside Camp Bagong Diwa is still subject to the approval of the Court en banc since it was the en banc which issued the resolution designating Cagayan de Oro courts to handle the cases against the Maute group members and their supporters.

The SC will hold its regular en banc session today, Tuesday.

The DOJ wants the transfer, citing security risks of holding the trial in Cagayan de Oro.

Aguirre said Sereno also proposed the conduct of continuous trial to expedite the resolution of the cases. Under the continuous trial system, postponements of hearings are prohibited unless on exceptional grounds. It also directs courts to promulgate a decision not later than 90 days from the submission of the case for decision.

Sought for comment, SC spokesman Theodore Te said the high court has yet to order the transfer of the cases to Taguig.

“The SC resolution stays until the SC says otherwise. It has not issued another resolution. The letter of the Secretary of Justice asking for reconsideration has not yet been granted by the SC,” Te said. 

Te stressed that a matter like that would not be decided by the Chief Justice alone but by all the magistrates, meaning the en banc.

“I don’t know how they would act on it. If there’s a letter it would be tackled during the en banc session and until they say otherwise, the resolution stays,” he added.

No en banc session took place last week as the Court held three days of oral arguments on the martial law declaration in Mindanao.

Aguirre has yet to respond to Te’s clarification. – With Raymond Africa and Ashzel Hachero
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