59 suspects from Zamboanga deny they’re Maute terror group members

(Photo: www.pressreader.com)

By Macon Araneta | FilAm Star Correspondent

Fifty-nine suspected members of the Maute terror group who were arrested in Zamboanga City asked the Department of Justice to dismiss their criminal charges.

During the preliminary hearing of their case, the respondents, through the lawyers from the Public Attorney’s Office, on August 14, denied the rebellion charges filed against them by the martial law authorities.

The respondents, detained in Camp Bagong Diwa in Taguig City, insisted they are not members of the Maute group in counter-affidavits written in Maranao and Tausug and submitted to the panel led by Senior Assistant State Prosecutor Peter Ong.

They were first brought to the Justice department on July 28 for inquest proceedings but they sought more time to answer the charges and opted for a preliminary investigation that extended their period of detention.

According to the Armed Forces and the Philippine National Police, 32 of the suspects were arrested at a checkpoint in Ipil, Zamboanga Sibugay, while the rest were caught in a raid in a house in Guiwan in Zamboanga City on July 25.

In their complaint, the authorities alleged that the suspects could be reinforcements sent by the Maute Group to Marawi.

The respondents included four minors and they claimed they were members of the Moro National Liberation Front heading for a training exercise in Camp Jabal Nur in Madamba, Lanao del Sur. Seized from them were military and police uniforms.

However, the MNLF leadership has already denied their claim and said there were no scheduled training exercise in Camp Jabal Nur.

Habib Mudjahab Hashim, head of the MNLF Islamic Command Council, said they received information on the massive recruitment activities in western Mindanao in the name of their group.