ARMM proposes courts for terrorism and drug cases
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Chief Superintendent Graciano Mijares of the Police Regional Office-Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao said Wednesday he is in favor of the plan of the regional peace and order council (RPOC) to ask the Supreme Court to put up “special courts” in the five ARMM provinces in support of domestic law enforcement activities.
The plan was agreed by RPOC members during a meeting at the ARMM capitol in Cotabato City on Monday.
The director of the Philippine Drug Enforcement Agency-ARMM, Juvenal Azurin, a member of the RPOC, said on Wednesday that he is also for the setting up of special courts in the region to handle big drug cases.
ARMM Gov. Mujiv Hataman, chairman of the inter-agency RPOC, said his regional local government secretary, lawyer Kirby Abdullah, will initiate the negotiation with Supreme Court.
It was Abdullah who recommended the move during the same RPOC meeting through a motion that members approved immediately.
Mijares and Lt. Gen. Carlito Galvez, Jr. of the Western Mindanao Command also both assured to help work out the deployment of non-resident state prosecutors in the autonomous region.
“We need them to lead the prosecution of Islamic State-inspired militants implicated in crimes and drug lords arrested for large-scale trafficking of methamphetamine hydrochloride (shabu)” Galvez said.
Abdullah, a practicing lawyer before Hataman appointed him last year as regional secretary of ARMM’s Department of the Interior and Local Government, will link Hataman’s office to the Supreme Court to push the RPOC’s plan forward.
There are recorded cases of still unresolved murders and harassments of state prosecutors in the autonomous region.
The lack of courts in the region is also blamed for the never ending “rido” culture, or vendetta feuds, among people as a means of exacting justice for affronts on clan pride and honor.
Mijares, born and raised in Marawi City, said special courts can efficiently litigate rido cases.
“Non-resident prosecutors can also help because they are neither related by blood nor by affinity to conflict protagonists. Blood relations and family ties are among the dynamics at play in all rido cases,” Mijares said.
Galvez, who was present in Monday’s RPOC meeting in Cotabato City, said on Wednesday that WestMinCom is ready to provide judges and special prosecutors enough security details while working in the autonomous region.
Hataman said having special courts in the ARMM --- covering Maguindanao and Lanao del Sur, both in mainland Mindanao, and the island provinces of Basilan, Sulu and Tawi-Tawi --- will boost the effort of addressing violent religious extremism now plaguing parts of the region.
“It will also enhance the anti-drug campaign of law-enforcement agencies in the autonomous region,” Hataman said.
Functions and powers of the judiciary and the Department of Justice are not among those the national government can devolve to the ARMM based on its charter, the Republic Act 9054.
“We have to proceed with our plan through proper protocols and appropriate channels. We are thankful to the ARMM police and the WestMinCom for assuring to support our effort towards that end,” Hataman said.
Mijares and Galvez are both members of the RPOC with voting powers they can exercise whenever the council promulgates vital policy decisions.
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