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DOJ junks rebellion raps vs. 58 suspected Maute recruits, recruiter

The Department of Justice has dismissed the rebellion charges against 58 suspected Maute recruits and the man who allegedly drafted them as reinforcement to the jihadist rebels fighting government troops in Marawi City.

Justice Secretary Vitaliano Aguirre II said Friday the panel of prosecutors led by Senior Assistant State Prosecutor Peter Ong found no probable cause to forward the case filed by the Armed Forces of the Philippines Western Mindanao Command for trial.

Aguirre said that the prosecutors came up with the resolution last week.

But he could not say if the 58 men and their alleged recruiter, Moro National Liberation Front (MNLF) member Nur Supian, have already been released from detention in Camp Aguinaldo, Quezon City after the decision of the DOJ panel.

"The DOJ will not be a part of any injustice. If in the assesment of our panel of prosecutors there is no basis to charge a person in court, such a finding should be respected," Aguirre said in a statement.

Sought for comment, AFP spokesperson Brigadier General Restituto Padilla said "we will comply with the decision."

Captain Jo-ann Petinglay, Armed Forces Western Mindanao Command spokesperson, had said that those arrested on July 25 in Zamboanga were believed to be preparing to reinforce the Maute-ISIS terror group in Marawi.

Petinglay said that 32 people were held at a military checkpoint in Ipil, Zamboanga del Sur while 27 others were arrested at a house in Guiwan, Zamboanga City.

Those arrested claimed to be members of the MNLF and were headed for a training in Camp Jabalnur in Lanao del Sur prior to their integration as regular forces of the AFP.

The military, however, said the MNLF denied any links to the group or that a training was scheduled at Camp Jabalnur for new recruits. —With a report from Amita Legaspi/LBG/KG/KBK, GMA News