The city mayor of Cotabato City and six other co-accused vowed to face the charges filed against them by a political foe in connection with a 2012 ambuscade that linked them to the incident.
The case against City Mayor Japal Guiani Jr. and his group stemmed from the ambush of former City Vice-Mayor Muslimin Sema on Jan. 10, 2012 along Gonzalo Javier St. that inflicted gunshot wounds in his face and body.
On Tuesday, Sema, concurrent chair of the Moro National Liberation Front Council of 15, filed frustrated and attempted murder charges against Guiani and six others in connection to the incident.
The filing of charges came after the Department of Justice (DOJ), which formed a panel of persecutors to investigate the case, found probable cause to pursue the matter.
Charged together with Guiani before the Regional Trial Court here were the mayor’s sister City Administrator Frances Cynthia Sayadi and her husband, Umbra; City Councilor Graham Nazer Dumama; Association of Barangay Captains president Abdilla Lim; Rosary Heights 5 barangay chair Amil Sula; and P/Insp. Noel Gutierrez of the city police force.
“We will face the case before the court because we are innocent of the charges, the mayor said during a press briefing held at the city hall on Wednesday.
Guiani has assured Cotabateños that it is business as usual at the city government despite the latest concern besetting the city administration.
“The fight has just begun,” Sayadi, a lawyer herself, said referring to the case.
Sema had earlier said that he felt vindicated over assertions that he staged an “ambush me” incident to tarnish the image of Guiani and gain the sympathy of Cotabateños following the DOJ resolution.
“Whose person is in his right mind to let bullets pierce through his face and body?” he earlier asked over a local radio station during a separate interview.
In the 2013 polls, Guiani defeated Sema, who served as local chief executive from 2001 – 2007, in the mayoral race.Guiani served as city vice-mayor under Sema during his term as mayor.
Following the end of Sema’s three terms as mayor in 2007, Guiani sought for the mayoral post and won while the former slid to the vice-mayoral spot. (PNA)