Security threat | Nine accused terrorists transferred to Bicutan

NINE high-risk inmates – all accused terrorists – in the region were transferred to the Bureau of Jail Management and Penology (BJMP)-Special Intensive Care Area (SICA) at Camp Bagong Diwa, Bicutan, Taguig City on Sunday.

This after the Supreme Court has granted the petition endorsed by the Davao City Peace and Order Council headed by Mayor Sara Duterte to transfer the high-risk inmates due to security threat.

Sr. Supt Amelia Rayandayan, regional director of BJMP XI, said the BJMP pushed for the transfer of the high-risk inmates for the stability of peace and security of the region.

Rayandayan said seven inmates are members of the Maute Group while the two are members of the Abu Sayyaf Group (ASG).

The alleged Maute members are Wendel Facturan, Musali Mustapha, TJ Macabalang, Zack Jaron Lopez, Jessy Vincent Original, Jackson Usi, and Alisa Mamasapano. The alleged ASG members are Arkan Isnaji and Fauzia Abdulla.

The alleged Maute members – all were detained at the Davao City Jail in Barangay Ma-a — are facing terrorism and multiple murders and multiple attempted murders charges for the Sept. 2, 2016 bombing of the Roxas Night Market that killed 15 people and injured 69 others.

The two alleged members – detained at a Davao del Norte jail — are facing kidnapping with homicide for kidnapping and beheading John Ridsdel, a Canadian national. Ridsdel was kidnapped on Sept. 21, 2015 at Holiday Ocean View resort in the Island Garden City of Samal, Davao del Norte.

“High-risk inmates like the Maute and Abu Sayaff need maximum security as they are known to be risky personalities and may be targets for rescue by their associates or even assassination attempts as some of them may have made ardent enemies prior to their incarceration,” said Jail Insp Edo Lobenia, BJMP XI spokesperson.

On Sunday, a Special Tactics and Response (STAR) Team of the BJMP Regional Office XI, led by its operations division chief Sr. Insp Erwin Esden, together with a team composed of agents from the Task Force Davao and the Police Highway Patrol Group in the region, coordinated the transfer of the inmates to the BJMP-SICA in Metro Manila.

Lobenia said the STAR Team is an elite tactical unit, composed of highly trained BJMP personnel and experts in dealing with high-risk and high-profile inmates, trained to perform high-risk operations that also include controlling critical jail disturbance and incidents.

“As BJMP officers, it (transferring of high-risk inmates) is one of our critical tasks. We were trained for this,” said Star Team leader Esden before leaving Davao on Sunday. “We have properly coordinated with the police and military prior to transporting the high-risk inmates.”

Jail Supt Grace Sun Taculin, Davao City Jail warden, said they petition before the Supreme Court for the transfer of place of detention and the venue of the court litigation.

The BJMP sent the request on Jan. 13, 2017.

Mayor Duterte, as head of the Davao City Peace and Order Council, endorsed the request for the immediate transfer of the high-risk inmates.

After almost a year — on Jan. 5, 2018, the Supreme Court’s Manila Second Division approved the request.

“Our prayers had already been granted. We are very grateful for the support of the Local Government of Davao City, especially to the Peace and Order Council, and Supreme Court of the Philippines,” Lobenia said.

Clear and present danger
“The continued detention of the accused in Davao City increases the likelihood of their comrades staging a rescue attempt endangering the lives of BJMP personnel and the people residing near the place of detention,” said Chief City Prosecutor Nestor Ledesma when asked by reporters on the reason that the Supreme Court granting the transfer petition.

Ledesma said the records in the Davao courts — Regional Trial Court (RTC) 11 Branches 17 and 33– concerning the Roxas market bombing were already forwarded to the executive judge of the RTC in Taguig City.

The RTC Branch 17 used to handle the terrorism case while the RTC Branch 33 used to hear the multiple murders with multiple attempted murders charges.

Ledesma said they will likely be raffled between RTC Taguig Branches 70 and 266 as these are the special courts designated by the Supreme Court “to hear, try, and decided cases and incidents arising from and related to the Maute takeover of the Marawi City regardless of the presence or involvement of minors in the said cases.”

While the cases involving the Roxas Night Market bombing is not covered in the August 2017 Supreme Court resolution, Ledesma said there are members of the Maute Group involved in the Davao case who are still at large and may also be involved in the Marawi takeover.

“The familiarity of the presiding judges on the identity and the background of these accused may assist them in the trial of this cases and given the volatile peace and order in Mindanao,” Ledesma citing the SC’s resolution in granting the petition.

The Davao City Prosecutor’s Office supported for the transfer of the venue of detention and litigation.

The Maute Group, also known as the Islamic State of Lanao, is a radical Islamist group behind the 2017 Marawi Siege that led President Rodrigo Duterte to place Mindanao under Martial Law.