(2ND UPDATE) The Department of Justice (DOJ) has junked the rebellion complaint against 58 alleged Maute group recruits and their alleged recruiter arrested in the Zamboanga peninsula last July 25.
The release of the respondents was confirmed Friday by Justice Undersecretary Erickson Balmes.
"The DOJ will not be a part of any injustice. If in the assessment of our panel of prosecutors there is no basis to charge a person in court, such a finding should be respected," Justice Chief Vitaliano Aguirre said on Friday afternoon.
Respondents were allegedly recruited by the local terror group to
reinforce its dwindling number of fighters in war-torn Marawi City.
They were arrested 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.
In their defense stated in their counter-affidavits, respondents
claimed they were recruited to be Moro National Liberation Front
(MNLF) integrees to the military and did not know they would be used against government forces.
The Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP), whose Western Mindanao Command (Wesmincom), is complainant in the case, said the MNLF denied this.
"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 bests to contain it," said Lt. Gen. Carlito Galvez, Jr., Commander of the Western Mindanao Command, in a statement.
AFP spokesperson Brigadier General Restituto Padilla said Friday afternoon the military respects the DOJ's decision.
"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. We are a professional organization committed to the rule of law," Padilla said.
The Maute group waged attacks on Marawi on May 23, leading President Duterte to declare martial law and suspend the privilege of the writ of habeas corpus in Mindanao for a period of 60 days. Congress then extended martial law up to December 31, 2017.