THE SUPREME Court (SC) announced yesterday that it has decided to move all cases relating to the Marawi City siege to the Regional Trial Court (RTC) of the National Capital Judicial Region in Taguig City from Cagayan de Oro City (CDO) in Northern Mindanao.

In a resolution dated June 27, 2017, the high court said the change of venue is intended “to speedily act on all prosecution and incidents arising from the violent incidents in Marawi City involving the Maute Group.”

The Special Intensive Care Area located in Camp Bagong Diwa will serve as the temporary detention facility of arrested suspects.

Various sectors in Cagayan de Oro earlier appealed for the transfer of the trials from the RTC based in the city, citing primarily the threats in having Maute-related suspects detained in facilities that are not built for high-risk prisoners, insufficient courtroom facilities, as well as the security of prosecutors and residents given the city’s proximity to Marawi.

The Integrated Bar of the Philippines’ group in Misamis Oriental province submitted an opposition to the initial plan saying the proximity of CDO to Marawi City may result to undue pressure from the families and relatives of the Maute group.

Justice Secretary Vitaliano N. Aguirre, who expressed concern about the SC’s previous designation of Cagayan de Oro as trial site, welcomed the Supreme Court decision.

“That is great news for DoJ (Department of Justice) and its panels of prosecutors in CDO,” he said in a statement he released to the media.

“It will solve a lot of problems like where the detainees are to be confined and whether we are going to rent a new place to hold the inquests and conduct preliminary investigations,” he added. — Mario M. Banzon