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PNP hits terror financiers hard

May 19, 2024 Alfred P. Dalizon 139 views

PNPOFFICIALS have hailed the Philippine National Police Intelligence Group (PNP-IG) for its major effort to identify, arrest and prosecute “financial facilitators” of terror groups.

Now headed by Colonel Edwin Portento, the PNP-IG was commended by high government officials, led by PNP chief General Rommel Francisco Marbil, for its continuing effort to unmask “terror financiers” and bring them to justice.

The latest terror ring supporter convicted was Norkisa Omar Asnalul alias Norkisa Omar Ibno. The Zamboanga City Regional Trial Court Branch 3 found Ibno guilty of acting as a ‘financial facilitator’ of the Abu Sayyaf Group.

He was sentenced to four months up to one-year and seven months of imprisonment apart from being ordered to pay a P100,000 fine.

The PNP-IG conducted the case build-up against the accused and others led by Myrna Mabanza, a Specially Designated Global Terrorist (SGDT) and a United Nations Security Council-listed terror personality in 2020.

In that year, lack of witnesses made it nearly impossible for the government to file criminal charges against the accused.

The PNP-IG learned of the deportation of an ASG/Dawlah Islamiyah member alias’ Indah’ to Manila following her arrest in the United Arab Emirates in 2022 for her alleged involvement in terrorism-related activities.

PNP-IG officers convinced her to spill the beans on the role of Mabanza and company, one of them Asnalul, on terror activities in the Philippines.

The ‘credible testimonies’ made by the accused-turned witness led to the filing of criminal charges for violation of Republic Act 10168 or The Terrorism Financing Prevention and Suppression Act of 2012 and RA 11479 or the Anti-Terrorism Act of 2020 against the accused before the Zamboanga City 9th Judicial Region on June 16, 2023.

Among those charged were Mabanza, financial conducts Norkisa Omar Asnalul and Almaida Salvin, two Indonesian nationals and Jamaah Ansharut Daulah of JAD members Neneng Rita alias ‘Machie’ and Soraidi Masud alias ‘Pachi’ ASG Zamboanga sub-leader Marsan Ajijul and a brother of Myrna named Omar Mabanza.

On October 12 and 19 last year, the preliminary investigation was conducted respectively to the witnesses and respondents.

On December 20, 2023, the Zamboanga City RTC Branch 33 issued warrants of arrest against Asnalul and Mabanza, respectively, for three counts and six counts of violation of RA 10168 and RA 11479.

Last March 15, Presiding Judge Shaldilyn B. Bangsaja granted the motion of the accused to enter a guilty plea to the lesser offence of three counts of violation of Section 7 (Accessory) of RA 10168.

Last April 4, the court found the accused guilty of the offenses as an ‘accessory’ and sentenced her to jail.

The Department of Justice said that the sentences ordered by the court shall be served successively and the period of detention of the accused shall be given full credit.

“The Court finds no legal impediment to the plea-bargaining agreement entered into by the prosecution and the defense, particularly considering that the lower offense to which the accused wishes to now plead guilty is penalized under the same law as that for which she was originally charged,” the court said.

DOJ Secretary Jesus Crispin C. Remulla Jr. said the conviction “strengthens the government’s resolve not to give in to their unlawful demands.”

He also recognized the panel of prosecutors who worked hard for this conviction.

Last week, the Taguig City RTC Branch 266 also sentenced Ominta Romato Maute, the matriarch of the Maute family in Marawi City, to up to 40 years of imprisonment for terrorism financing.

The Taguig court found Maute guilty beyond reasonable doubt of violating Section 4 of RA 10168 and sentenced her to suffer the penalty of imprisonment from 17 years, four months, and one day to reclusion perpetua or up to 40 years of imprisonment.

Maute, who was arrested with suspected Maute Group members in June, 2017 in Lanao del Sur, was also ordered to pay P500,000 fine.

“After judicious review of the records and evidence of this case, the Court finds that the prosecution was able to prove the elements of the crime of financing,” it said.