DOJ: Maute matriarch convicted

By Benjamin Pulta

May 16, 2024, 6:11 pm

<p><em>(PNA file photo by Yancy Lim)</em></p>

(PNA file photo by Yancy Lim)

MANILA – The Department of Justice (DOJ) on Thursday announced the conviction of the matriarch of the Maute family that was behind the Marawi City siege.

In a 39-page decision dated May 15, 2024, the Taguig City Regional Trial Court (RTC) Branch 266 found Ominta Romato Maute guilty beyond reasonable doubt of violation of Section 4 of Republic Act (RA) 10168 or “The Terrorism Financing Prevention and Suppression Act of 2012.”

Ominta, also known as “Farhana Maute,” was linked by authorities to terrorist activities on several occasions.

The court noted that on July 29, 2016, Ominta provided 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 C. Pundug.

State forces intercepted the vehicle, prompting the five terrorist-passengers to flee, leaving several improvised explosive devices (IEDs) inside the vehicle.

She and the five named terrorists were also accused in the kidnapping and beheading of civilians in Lanao del Sur from April 4-10, 2016.

The court charged Ominta for terrorism financing for knowingly, willfully, and unlawfully making available the Toyota Innova registered under her name to known terrorists and members of a terrorist group.

“It can be deduced that the elements to be proved by the prosecution, for accused Ominta to be convicted of the offense of financing of terrorism are: first, the willful intention of Ominda to provide or make available a property; and second, that the property, in full or in part made available are to be used to carry out or facilitate the commission of any terrorist act; and by a terrorist organization, association or group; or by an individual terrorist,” Taguig City RTC Branch 266 Presiding Judge Marivic C. Vitor said.

“After a 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 court sentenced Ominta to imprisonment of up to 40 years and pay a fine of PHP500,000.

In a statement, Justice Secretary Jesus Crispin C. Remulla said the conviction is a “big win” in the country’s fight against terrorism.

“This conviction exhibits our nation’s unity and resilience to fight the evils lurking in our society, I am very proud of our DOJ family, particularly the Counter-Terrorism and Terrorism Financing Task Force I for overcoming the odds and risking their lives to safeguard peace and order,” Remulla said.

“We are committed to scoring more convictions, particularly on cases involving terrorism and terrorism financing. We will never let terrorism prevail nor let it sow fear among our people.” (PNA)