The Regional Trial Court in Cotabato has denied an amended motion by prosecution to include Vice Mayor Muslimin Sema in the case involving the kidnapping of a wealthy Chinese business woman, virtually clearing the chairman of the Moro National Liberation Front (MNLF).
In a February 10, 2011 order, RTC Branch 3 Judge Bansawan Ibrahim, Al Haj, denied the motion to admit amended information for ” insufficiency of evidence.”
The order came days after Sema in a privilege speech at the Sanggunian Panlungsod on February 8, condemned as a “politically motivated” hatchet job his being linked to the January 8 abduction of 54-year-old Adin Yu, owner of the city’s oldest hardware store at the parking area of a casino inside a plush hotel in Cotabato City.
Sema and his known loyal followers–former city administrator Ismael Daulog, Mayor Salaban Diocolano of Kabuntalan town in Maguindanao, Rolly Solano, and Sukarno Sema, an incumbent member of the City Council–were included in the list of more than 10 more suspects the police recommended to be charged in connection with Yu’s kidnapping in Criminal Case No. 2011-4096 for Kidnapping and Serious Illegal Detention.
The MNLF in a resolution described the attempt to link Sema to the kidnaping as “purely baseless and a political assassination.”
“Chairman Sema cannot in anyway be involved in any crime or acts of misdemeanor being the supreme leader of an honorable organization,” said the MNLF in Resolution No. 010.
Businessmen and religious communities had scored Sema’s being dragged into the case
and appealed to Justice Secretary Leila de Lima to look into why he is being implicated.
Islamic communities here slammed city’s prosecutor Wilfred Buyco for elevating the case to RTC without first requiring Sema and his co-accused to undergo a preliminary investigation and to submit their counter-affidavits.
“Our names were not included in the first information sheet that was submitted to the prosecutor. We were listed as among the suspects in a subsequent request by the police to have the first information sheet amended,” Sema lsaid earlier.
Fears have been expressed over tension erupting between Sema and his political rivals, after the vice mayor said hostile camps were behind the smear campaign.
In his speech at the local legislative body, Sema vowed those behind the smear campaign against him will ” face the consequence of their doing.”
” I never was, I never am, and will never be a kidnapper nor mastermind of any kidnapping plan in Cotabato City or elsewhere. Throughout my life as a rebel leader, as an ordinary citizen, as a fomer city mayor and now city vice mayor, i never commited or thought of committing crime against any person,” he said in the emotionally-charged speech. “Even during the hardest part my life as rebel leader when we eat once a day, I never resorted to kidnapping.”
Addressing his detractors, Sema said “you will not succeed and face the consequence of your own doing. Time will come when they reap what they sow, ” although he advised supporters to be calm. If they can do this to a former mayor and chairman of the MNLF, what fate awaits ordinary citizens? he asked.
In his speech, he urged the legislative body to conduct an investigation on rampant kidnappings in the city, saying the Philipine National Police, National Bureau of Investigation and the Criminal Investigation and Detection Group (CIDG) have no ” no consolidated and systematic effort to stop the kidnappings.”
Sema suspected that his being linked to the kidnapping and the trial by publicity convinced him that the coming peace talk is a “ploy to trap leaders into mainstream politics by eliminating them through criminal cases and malicious accusations to wear out their revolutionary fervor.”