MANILA — The Department of National Defense (DND) respects the decision of the Department of Justice (DOJ) to dismiss the rebellion case filed against 59 suspected Maute Group recruits arrested in Zamboanga City last July.
“There is no evidence of their being involved in the rebellion hence they were set free. That is what our justice system is supposed to do, to let the innocent go and only punish those who have committed crimes,” Defense Secretary Delfin Lorenzana said late Friday.
“The burden of proof is with the law enforcement, and failing to substantiate the allegation, the suspects are free to go. I agree with that decision,” he added.
His sentiments were echoed by Armed Forces spokesperson, Brig. Gen. Restituto Padilla.
“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 jurisdiction of our civil courts on cases we file. We are a professional organization committed to the rule of law,” Padilla said.
Justice Secretary Vitaliano Aguirre on Friday confirmed that a panel of prosecutors had issued a resolution dismissing the charges filed by the military against the 59 respondents.
“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 finding should be respected,” Aguirre said in a statement, adding that the release of the 59 suspects has been ordered.
Of the 59, 32 were arrested at a checkpoint in Ipil, Zamboanga Sibugay while the other 27, four of them minors, were arrested along Daisy Road in Guiwan, Zamboanga City. They were arrested last July 25.
Authorities seized from the suspects military uniforms, boots and Moro National Liberation Front (MNLF) identification cards.
Last Aug. 14, the respondents submitted their counter-affidavits, saying they were recruited to join the MNLF.
They said they were promised a PHP30,000 monthly salary and that they would eventually be integrated into the military. They tagged MNLF member Nur Supian as their recruiter.