PAO: Cashier accused of terrorism financing chose plea bargain
MANILA, Philippines — The Public Attorney’s Office (PAO) on Saturday said that Rural Missionaries of the Philippines (RMP) cashier Angelie Magdua, who was accused of terror financing, chose to enter a plea bargain deal after she was properly informed.
In a letter by Magdua’s lawyers addressed to PAO chief Persida Acosta and shared to INQUIRER.net, the lawyers contradicted claims by “other organizations” that Magdua was deceived. The writers of the letter, however, were not named.
While the Office did not refer to any specific person or group in their letter, the Union of People’s Lawyers in Mindanao (UPLM) had recently questioned the said plea bargain.
READ: Lawyers cast doubt over plea bargain deal for cashier convicted of financing terrorism
“It has been mentioned that the accused is willing to plea-bargain the case to expedite the case and to avail some government protection. We conferred with the client about the proposal ang requested to have an isolated interview. The accused was presented with the option to fight the case, but she informed myself and Atty. Alyanna B. Bantuas that she wanted to enter into a plea-bargain involving her 55 cases,” said the PAO letter.
According to the PAO lawyer’s letter, Magdua chose the plea bargain after another lawyer, Bantuas, Deputy State Prosecutor Peter Ong, City Prosecutor Shirly Bisnar and representatives of the National Intelligence Coordinating Agency met with accused in January 2023 to discuss the case.
“We informed the accused of the possible imposable penalty for the offense charged and the penalty to be imposed in the plea bargaining. Based on a thorough evaluation and weighing the possible outcome of the case, it was our honest opinion that entering into a plea bargaining would be advantageous to her,” said the PAO letter.
The PAO letter, however, acknowledged that Magdua was not aware of the charges brought against her.
The UPLM has previously alleged that Magdua was lured into a plea bargaining into “a web of deception and false promises”.
“Contrary to what has been alleged by other organizations in the media, the accused was not reeled-in into entering a plea-bargaining through a web of lies and deception. In fact, it was the accused who initiated the idea of entering into a plea-bargain. We informed her of the possible consequences of such a decision,” said the PAO letter.
Magdua’s PAO lawyers are insistent that they have sufficiently informed her of the plea bargain, and she had even reiterated her decision on March 16, 2023.
“We can assure you that we have acted in accordance with our professional duties and responsibilities. We have provided the accused with all the necessary information and guidance to make an informed decision. We also want to emphasize that the accused made her decision voluntarily and without any undue influence,” it said.
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