Zamboanga mayor rejects MNLF plea bargain

By RJ Rosalado, ABS-CBN News Zamboanga

Posted at Apr 24 2015 12:15 AM | Updated as of Apr 24 2015 08:51 AM

ZAMBOANGA CITY - Zamboanga City Mayor Maria Isabelle Climaco-Salazer has rejected the proposed plea bargaining of 235 members of the Moro National Liberation Front (MNLF) accused of rebellion and violation of international humanitarian law, in relation to the 2013 Zamboanga siege.

In a press statement on Thursday, Climaco said some of the accused MNLF members are proposing to plead guilty for a lesser crime of sedition, which entails a penalty of only 6 years imprisonment.

Some 145 accused also want to plead guilty for lesser crimes of illegal assembly and illegal use of uniform, which carry a penalty of one month to six months imprisonment, or six years imprisonment, if the accused were armed at the time of the crime.

Climaco said the rebellion case and violation of international humanitarian law carry a heavier penalty of up to 20 years imprisonment.

She added that the proposed plea bargaining is not commensurate to the deaths of policemen, soldiers, and civilians during the three-week crisis, which affected thousands of families.

City officials are now studying legal options and remedies, with the help of top lawyers of the City Legal Office, the Department of Justice, and the city council.

Climaco said she also wants to consult the families of the victims of the siege to get their inputs and opinions on the proposed plea bargaining of the accused MNLF members.

The official assured her constituents that justice will be served to the families of victims and to those who were displaced by the bloody three-week conflict.

MNLF chairman Nur Misuari and some MNLF commanders, including Habier Malik, are among accused in the Zamboanga siege.

They are among seven who are still at large and are subject for arrest.

The arraignment and pre-trial of the case will be done at the Pasig City Regional Trial Court, while testimonies of the witnesses will be received in a separate court in Zamboanga City, pursuant to the resolution of the Supreme Court.