First conviction in anti-terror law

Posted on July 20, 2015

THE DEPARTMENT OF JUSTICE (DoJ) has secured its first conviction under the Human Security Act, after one member of the “Al Khobar Group” was found guilty for a 2008 car bomb explosion in Midsayap, Cotabato.

The DoJ, whose logo is seen here, has secured its first conviction under the Human Security Act. -- BW File Photo
The agency cited a recently received two-page decision by the Pasig City Regional Trial Court Branch 69 sentencing Jun Guevarra (also known as Manuel Ibarra or Jun Ibarra) to 10 years’ imprisonment, after a plea bargain was approved.

Prosecutors said Guevarra and two others, Abu Basir and Khenny Mamogkat, who remain at large, operated under the Al Khobar group, which planted an improvised explosive device (IED) at the Midsayap public terminal that exploded on May 8, 2008.

The act was committed to coerce the local government to give in to its demand of a monthly P100,000 tax to be deposited to Mamogkat’s bank account, the information as quoted by the decision said.

Although Guevarra originally entered a not guilty plea on May 2009, he later asked prosecutors to be allowed to plead guilty to a lesser offense as an accessory to the crime.

Quoting him as saying he was remorseful, the decision said: “He condemned in the strongest word the Al Khobar as a terroristic organization which targeted victims to extort money.”

The court approved the plea bargain and sentenced Guevarra to 10 years’ imprisonment, also ordering him to pay nominal damages of P30,000 each to seven victims present during the explosion.

Republic Act No. 9372, or the Human Security Act of 2007, made “terrorism a crime against the Filipino people, against humanity, and against the law of nations.”

Aside from this case, the DoJ Task Force on Anti-Terrorism also obtained murder convictions for five individuals responsible for bombing Awang Airport in Cotabato City in 2003, which killed one soldier. The five led by Zulkifli Julkifli were sentenced to reclusion perpetua, or up to 40 years’ imprisonment.

Three members of the Abu Muslim Group -- the urban support group of the notorious Abu Sayyaf Group -- were also convicted for multiple murder for bombing the Filmart Shopping Center in General Santos City in 2002, which led to 12 being killed and 46 injured.

The three were also ordered to pay the heirs of the fatalities a total of P180,000 in civil indemnity and damages, as well as P95,000 to the only injured victim who presented evidence during the trial. -- Vince Alvic Alexis F. Nonato