MANILA- Sixty men arrested in two separate incidents in the Zamboanga Peninsula on Tuesday underwent inquest proceedings at the Department of Justice (DOJ) Friday afternoon.
In a statement, the Armed Forces of the Philippines Western Mindanao Command (WESMINCOM) said the suspects would face rebellion charges for "covert acts tending to reinforce the Maute-ISIS (Islamic State in Iraq and Syria) terrorists fighting government in Marawi."
The arrests were made as firefights between the military and ISIS-linked terrorists in Marawi City entered its third month, leaving more than 600 dead and thousands displaced.
"They were flown by a Philippine Air Force plane to Manila for further questioning and custody in an appropriate facility while charges are being prepared for violation of the Revised Penal Code relating to the crime of Rebellion," the statement read.
The men asked for a full-blown preliminary investigation and waived their right under Article 125 of the Revised Penal Code or the "delay in the delivery of detained persons to the proper judicial authorities."
A hearing was set on Aug. 14 for submission of their counter-affidavits.
The military said 33 men were arrested at a military checkpoint in Ipil, Zamboanga Del Sur, while 27 others were apprehended in a house in Guiwan, Zamboanga City.
Military and police uniforms were confiscated from both groups.
Upon interrogation, they reportedly claimed they were members of the Moro National Liberation Front (MNLF) on their way to Camp Jabal Nur in Lanao del Sur for training prior to integration into the Armed Forces of the Philippines.
The MNLF, however, denied links with the groups, according to the military.
WESMINCOM Commander Lt. Gen. Carlito Galvez Jr. said the military is doing its best to prevent a spillover of the Marawi conflict.
"These two instances of arrest, and of the other group who knowingly misrepresented themselves to be soldiers and policemen on their way to Marawi City, should allay the fears of our people of the likelihood of the rebellion in Marawi spilling over to their places because the military and the police are doing their level best to contain it," he said.
Presidential Adviser on the Peace Process Jesus Dureza meanwhile warned the public against the illegal recruitment of civilians in Mindanao.
“There is no ongoing ‘integration’ arrangement at all between the government and any group or faction under the peace process. This could be a scam or a handiwork of terrorists recruiting fighters to fight government,” Dureza said in a statement.
The Maute group waged attacks in Marawi City on May 23, prompting President Rodrigo Duterte to declare martial law and suspend the privilege of the writ of habeas corpus in Mindanao for a period of 60 days. Congress on Saturday extended the martial law declaration up to Dec. 31.