Fifty-nine suspected recruits of the Maute terrorist group are now facing rebellion charges before the Department of Justice (DOJ) after their arrest in Zamboanga City.
The 59 suspects were presented before the panel of prosecutors chaired by Senior Assistant State Prosecutor Peter Ong after being flown to Manila from Zamboanga del Sur on Friday via a C-130 plane of the military.
Ong, assisted by Quezon City Assistant City Prosecutor Ramoncito Bienvenido Ocampo Jr. and DOJ Assistant State Prosecutor Aristotle Reyes formed the three-man prosecution panel.
Of the 59, the 32 men were arrested at a checkpoint in Ipil, Zamboanga Sibugay while the remaining 27, four of them minors, were arrested along Daisy Road in Guiwan, Zamboanga City. They were all arrested last July 25.
Authorities seized from the suspects military uniforms, boots and Moro National Liberation Front (MNLF) identification cards.
Among those arrested is MNLF member Nur Supian who was pointed by the arrested suspects as their recruiter.
During the proceedings, the suspects signed their waiver of detention and decided that the panel of prosecutors proceed with the conduct of a preliminary investigation.
Ong asked the arresting officers to present photographs of the plate numbers of the two vans that carried the 32 respondents. They were also asked to present the certificate from the MNLF saying that the MNLF identification cards found in the possession of the respondents were fake.
The hearing, which was supposed to have started at 1:00 p.m. was moved to 3:45 p.m. since they waited for the arrival of the 59 suspects who arrived at Villamor Airbase Friday afternoon from Zamboanga.
From Villamor Airbase, the suspects were transported on board an Army bus to the DOJ.
The arrested suspects would be detained at Camp Bagong Diwa, Taguig City.
Ong scheduled the start of preliminary investigation on August 14 at 2:00 p.m. where the suspects are set to submit their respective counter-affidavits on the accusations against them.