No to plea bargaining bids.
ZAMBOANGA CITY (June 24, 2015) - The city government through City Mayor Maria Isabelle Climaco has formally filed with the Department of Justice in Manila the city strong opposition to the plea bargaining proposals of the Moro National Liberation Front (MNLF) rebels charged with rebellion and violations of the International Humanitarian Law (IHL) for leading and participating in the Zamboanga siege in September 2013.
Mayor Climaco said the plea bargaining proposals if granted by DOJ will reduce the rebellion and IHL charges to mere sedition, illegal assembly and illegal use of uniform, respectively, which carry with them much lesser penalties or punishments.
"As mayor of the City of Zamboanga, I cannot in conscience agree to the plea bargaining proposals which propose that the charges for violation of RA 9851, otherwise known as the "Philippine Act on Crimes Against International Humanitarian Law, Genocide and other Crimes Against Humanity" penalized with reclusion perpetua and a fine ranging from P500,000 to P1 million and the charge for rebellion be DISMISSED in consideration of the plea of guilty of the accused for lesser crime of sedition...," Mayor Climaco explained in her letter dated June 19, 2015 to Justice Secretary Leila M. De Lima.
Under Article 140 of the Revised Penal Code, Climaco stressed, is penalized with prision mayor in its maximum period (6 years and 1 day to 8 years) and a fine not exceeding P10,000 (for the siege leader) and the penalty of prision correccional in its maximum period (4 years, 2 months and 1 day to 6 years) and a fine not exceeding P5,000 for other persons merely participating (in the siege).
"I cannot also accede to the plea bargaining proposal wherein the (MNLF attackers) accused of IHL violations will be allowed to plead guilty to the crimes of illegal assembly and illegal use of uniform," the lady chief executive said.
Adding that both charges carry the lowest penalties of only arresto mayor (1 month, 1 day to 6 years imprisonment) and thereafter the accused will be released from detention after they have entered their plea.
PHILIPPINE EAGLES -- Zamboanga City Maria Isabelle Climaco-Salazar (left) welcomes Fraternal Order of Eagles National President Salvador Ramos and members of the Philippine Eagles who arrived in the city to conduct relief operation for the evacuees displaced by the recent conflict between government forces and members of the Moro National Liberation Front loyal to Nur Misuari. (Joseph T. Jubelag)