THE Department of Justice (DoJ) has dismissed rebellion charges against 58 alleged Maute group recruits and their alleged recruiter who were nabbed in the Zamboanga peninsula last July 25.
Justice Undersecretary Erickson Balmes said prosecutors found no probable cause against the respondents.
The DoJ conducted the preliminary investigation against the respondents who were allegedly recruited by the Islamic State-linked Maute terror group to reinforce its dwindling number of fighters in war-torn Marawi City.
They were nabbed at a military checkpoint in Ipil, Zamboanga del Sur, and from a house in Guiwan, Zamboanga City. The 59th respondent is alleged recruiter Nur Supian.
The Armed Forces of the Philippines’ Western Mindanao Command had tagged the arrested men as “recruits” of the Maute group, as “fresh military and police uniforms” were confiscated from them when they were nabbed.
The men claimed they were members of the Moro National Liberation Front (MNLF) and that they were headed to Camp Jabalnur in Lanao del Sur for training.
In their counter-affidavits, the respondents claimed they were MNLF recruits for integration with the military, and did not know they would be used against government forces.
The Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) said on Friday it would respect the decision of the Department of Justice in junking the rebellion charges against the alleged Maute recruits.
“We fully respect the decision and will abide by it. It also shows the military is fully compliant with the provisions set forth in our Constitution regarding Martial Law and on the continuous jurisdiction of our civil courts on cases we file,” AFP spokesman Brig. Gen. Restituto Padilla Jr. said in a statement.