Army looks for members of court martial to try Durante, others

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Metro Manila (CNN Philippines, January 29) — The Philippine Army is now looking for members of a general court martial that would try relieved Brig. Gen. Jesus Durante III and other military personnel over the killing of Davao-based model and businesswoman Yvonette “Yvonne” Chua Plaza.

Naghahanap muna kami ng members who will constitute the GCM (General Court Martial)…Nagpe-prepare lang kami pero merong pre-trial investigation pa,” Army chief Lt. Gen. Romeo Brawner Jr. confirmed to reporters on Sunday.

[Translation: We’re now looking for members who will constitute the GCM…We are preparing since the pre-trial investigation is still ongoing.]

Brawner said he issued the order on Saturday as he anticipates within this week the recommendations of the Judge Advocate General’s Office and the Office of the Provost Marshal General, which are studying if Durante’s case needs a general court martial.

He said he already forwarded to the offices the results of the investigation of the 10th Infantry Division’s Board of Inquiry, which already recommended to try the military officers via court martial.

The Davao Region Police earlier implicated Durante, the commander of the 1001st Infantry Brigade in Davao de Oro and six other enlisted military personnel in Plaza’s murder, which was established as a “crime of passion.”

Durante, who was the former Presidential Security Group commander of Rodrigo Duterte, was the alleged mastermind, according to police investigators.

On Friday, Armed Forces of the Philippines spokesperson Col. Medel Aguilar said five of the military officers are already under its custody, including Durante and his deputy Col. Michael Licyayo.

He added they are still trying to locate the other two personnel.

The court martial proceedings will tackle the administrative aspects of the cases filed against the army personnel, including their ranks and benefits. The criminal aspects, on the other hand, will be handled by civil courts.

Representatives of Gabriela, ACT Teachers, and Kabataan are also seeking a House committee investigation.

CNN Philippines senior correspondent David Santos and digital producer Jelo Mantaring contributed to this report.