THE 58 suspected recruits of the Maute terrorist group, excluding their alleged recruiter, submitted their counter affidavits before the Department of Justice (DOJ) denying rebellion charges filed against them by the military.
Senior State Prosecutor Peter Ong gave the 58 suspects until Wednesday to submit additional documents while the recruiter, identified as Nur Supian, was given until Friday to submit his counter affidavit.
“The Public Attorney’s Office could not handle your case because you are being identified as their recruiter,” Ong told Supian. “You get your own lawyer or you answer yourself the complaint.”
The accused Maute recruits arrived at about 2:45 p.m. but it took time to start the preliminary hearing because the accused were each asked to sign an attendance paper and escorting police had to assist them since they were handcuffed.
The recruits are divided in to two groups — 32 belong to the group that was arrested in Ipil town in Zamboanga Sibugay, while 27 others were arrested from a house in Guiwan, Zamboanga City.
The recruits alleged that Supian made them believe that they would be part of the Moro National Liberation Front (MNLF), to be later integrated into the Philippine Army.
“In fact, 30 recruits alleged that they paid P1,500 each,” Ong said.
The counter-affidavits, which were filed in response to the charges by the Western Mindanao Command of the Armed Forces of the Philippines (Wesmincom AFP), were submitted after an inquest proceeding last July 28 at the DOJ. They were subjected to questioning July 25 in Zamboanga City.
Ong also instructed the lawyers of the recruits to submit documents showing the denial of the leadership of the MNLF that it was recruiting the group of Supian.
MNLF leader Yusoph Jikiri denied having anything to do with the alleged Maute group’s new recruits.
Ong directed Sapian to submit his reply to the complaint on Friday morning at 10 a.m. before Assistant Prosecutor Ramoncito Ocampo Jr. of the Quezon City Prosecutor’s Office.
Ocampo is a member of the prosecutorial panel led by Ong.