Olongapo SubicBay BatangGapo Newscenter

Tuesday, January 31, 2006

Prosecutors ask court to arraign 4 US marines

By Rey E. Requejo, Manila Standaard Today

GOVERNMENT prosecutors are set to ask the Olongapo City Regional Trial Court to set the arraignment of the four American soldiers who were charged with raping a 22-year old Filipina in Nov. 1 last year.

Olongapo City Prosecutor Prudencio Jalandoni yesterday said he will file a motion asking Judge Renato Dilag to reverse his decision suspending the arraignment of US S/Sgt. Chad Carpentier, L/Cpls. Daniel Smith, Keith Silkwood and Dominic Duplantis until Justice Secretary Raul Gonzalez has resolved the motions for review submitted by the defense.

Jalandoni said Dilag has to reconsider his decision because the DoJ secretary has 60 days to resolve the motions for review, while the court has only 30 days within which to set the arraignment from the time the case is filed.

He said this situation could lead to a dangerous predicament since the prescribed period for the court to set the arraignment is running out.

Under the rules, the court has 30 days within which to set the arraignment from the time the case is filed. Arraignment allows the accused to face the complainant and to enter a plea of guilty or not guilty for the crime allegedly committed.

“The court did not fix a limit. We will try to convince the court and ask an affirmative relief that he set the arraignment even if the DoJ has not yet resolved the motions for review of the US Marines,” Jalandoni said.

“We have to follow the law. They (accused) have not filed yet a motion to defer, but the court has already decided to defer the arraignment,” Jalandoni said.

According to him, the court’s action deferring the arraignment is inconsistent with the provision of the Rules of Court calling for a speedy trial of cases.

“It is very clear that upon filing of the information in court, the court must issue an order setting the case for arraignment. It seemed that the court issued the order and did not provide for the period for the arraignment. Because of this, the case would stop already and there would be no movement,” he lamented.

He said the prosecution is coordinating with the US Naval Criminal Investigation Services and added that there was no pressure from the US to prevent the arraignment of the four accused Marines.

“What they want in this case is a fair and just hearing and to ensure justice to the victim. They don’t care whether (the accused) would all be found guilty later on. And they will be placed under the custody of the court,” Jalandoni said


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