New probe of charges vs 38 'RSF members' ordered

by Ina Reformina, ABS-CBN News

Posted at Mar 25 2013 04:05 PM | Updated as of Mar 26 2013 04:43 AM

MANILA (1st UPDATE) - A Tawi-tawi trial court has ordered the reinvestigation of criminal charges against 38 alleged members of the Sultanate of Sulu's Royal Security Force (RSF) intercepted off the seas of Tawi-tawi purportedly from Sabah.

The Tawi-tawi Regional Trial Court (RTC) Branch 5 granted the request of the 38 through the Public Attorney's Office (PAO).

The accused are facing charges for violations of Art. 118 of the Revised Penal Code (Inciting to war and giving motives for reprisals) and the Comelec gun ban.

They are currently detained at a naval facility in Panglima Sugala.

The group is the first batch of RSF members charged before a trial court in the Philippines for their alleged incursion in Sabah over the Sultanate's territorial claim.

The Department of Justice (DOJ) will conduct the reinvestigation ordered by the trial court.

The accused were intercepted in 3 separate incidents by the Philippine Navy and Philippine Coast Guard.

Justify lower bail bond

Meantime, the DOJ has opposed the plea for reduction of bail for the 38 detained alleged members of the RSF who were intercepted by Philippine authorities off the seas of Tawi-tawi purportedly on their way back from Sabah.

During a hearing on Monday, the DOJ opposed the motion filed by the PAO to lower the bail bond for each accused from P164,000 per charge to P3,000 per charge or P9,000 per accused.

Tawi-tawi RTC Branch 5 acting Judge Peter Esma ordered both the PAO and DOJ to submit their respective position papers on the issue.

PAO chief Persida Acosta said the accused cannot afford the P400,000 bail bond for each of them and the court should consider their financial status.