MANILA - Seven suspected members of the Maute clan were barred from leaving the country Monday.
The 7 passengers, including 2 minors, were supposed to leave for Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia on board Cebu Pacific flight 5J 499 when they were intercepted by Bureau of Immigration personnel.
Red Mariñas, Immigration Port Operations Division head, said some of seven passengers have the Maute surname.
He added that it is part of their protocol to check whether the seven passengers are members of the Maute clan fighting with government forces in Marawi City.
BI spokesperson Ma. Antonette Mangrobang said the agency was investigating four of the seven passengers as they have the same names as those listed in an arrest order released by the military.
"Four of the seven passengers found to be...have namesakes in the arrest order so there is a need to further verify their identities with the PNP, CIDG, and the NBI," Mangrobang told ANC.
The other three passengers were later released because they have no derogatory records with the BI, Mangrobang added.
Yasser Dumaraya Maute, one of the four who are being investigated, denied links to the Maute terrorist group.
"Hindi naman tayo kasama. Malayo. Alam mo naman sa pamilya, parang sa inyo rin, may Juan, may Dela Cruz, magkakapangalan lang, hindi naman kasama," he said.
He said he was able to leave the country last month without any problem.
"Wala tayong magagawa, nasa kanila 'yun, 'yun ang desisyon eh. Kaya lang, talagang masama ang loob ko. Nung paalis kami nung nag-pilgrims kami noong June 5, bumalik kami ng 28, okay naman 'yung flight. Ngayon lang," Maute said.
The passengers claimed they were supposed to visit Malaysia to take religious studies, a requisite to become an imam or Muslim religious leader, BI's Mangrobang said.
Three of the passengers were brought to Camp Crame while one more was held at the National Bureau of Investigation (NBI) pending further investigation.
Philippine National Police (PNP) Aviation Security Group head Chief Supt. Sheldon Jacaban identified the man as Alnizar Palawan Maute, who was on the defense department's martial law arrest order.
"They (seven passengers) are supposed to travel to Malaysia, pero nasa blue list ng Philippine Center of Transnational Crime, 'yung isa included sa martial law arrest order," said Jacaban.
"'Yung isa na may warrant nasa NBI ngayon kasi may warrant, baka may other dossier pa silang hawak," he added.
In an interview on Tuesday afternoon, PNP Chief Director General Ronald dela Rosa said the police would exhaust all means available to them under martial rule in Mindanao to investigate the Mautes barred from leaving the country.
"Ano ba sabi ng Martial Law? We are allowed to hold them for three days. We will exhaust those remedies," Dela Rosa said.
"Malaman natin yan. Kino-conduct naman ang investigation ng CIDG, so kung wala talagang makitang [dahilan na] i-hold sila for legal ground further, why hold them further? Malaman 'yan after the investigation. Kung merong derogatory records, gawan ng legal action," he added. -- report from Raya Capulong, Maan Macapagal, ABS-CBN News and Raoul Esperas