Maute mother convicted, gets life for terror financing

Nillicent Bautista - The Philippine Star

MANILA, Philippines — A Taguig court has convicted the mother of siblings Omar and Abdullah Maute for financing the terror attacks in Marawi City.

In a decision promulgated on Wednesday, Taguig Regional Trial Court Branch 266 Judge Marivic Vitor sentenced Ominta Romato Maute, also known as Farhana Maute, to life in prison for terrorism financing.

The court has found the Maute matriarch guilty of violating Republic Act 10168 or the Terrorism Financing Prevention and Suppression Act of 2012.

She was ordered to pay a fine of P500,000.

“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 terrorism financing,” the decision read.

In the 39-page ruling, the Maute matriarch was charged with terrorism financing for “knowingly, willfully and unlawfully making available” a vehicle registered under her name to members of a terrorist group.

Court records showed that on July 29, 2016, she allowed her Toyota Innova to be used by five terrorists: Mohammad Khayam Romato Maute, Omar Khayam Romato Maute, Abdullah Romato Maute, Mahater Romato Maute and Najib Pundug.

Authorities intercepted the vehicle on the same day and recovered several improvised explosive devices.

In convicting Ominta, the court said “the element of willful intention in making available the property was present.”

The court added that the second element, in which the vehicle was made available to be used to facilitate the commission of any terrorist act, was likewise present.

“Evidently, the Toyota Innova was made available to be used to carry out the attack committed by a terrorist organization, in this case, the Maute group,” the decision read.

‘Big win’

Justice Secretary Jesus Crispin Remulla welcomed the conviction of the Maute matriarch, describing it as a “big win” in the country’s fight against terrorism.

“We will never let terrorism prevail nor let it sow fear among our people. This conviction exhibits our nation’s unity and resilience to fight the evils lurking in our society,” Remulla said in a statement.

“We are committed to scoring more convictions, particularly on cases involving terrorism and terrorism financing,” he added.

Remulla also commended the prosecution panel that handled the case “for working up a sweat to make sure justice is served.”

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