Court clears 42 suspected MNLF members of rebellion, genocide
ZAMBOANGA CITY—A Pasig City court has cleared 42 out of the 272 suspected Moro National Liberation Front (MNLF) members charged with rebellion and genocide in connection with the September 2013 siege here.
Commissioner Edilwasiff Baddiri of the National Commission on Muslim Filipinos (NCMF) told the Inquirer the 42 cleared suspects will be released anytime on Saturday after the warden of the Security Intensive Care Area 2 at Camp Bagong Diwa received a copy of the March 13 order of Presiding Judge Maria Rowena Modesto San Pedro of the Regional Trial Court Branch 158 of Pasig City.
The court’s 12-page resolution said the 42 suspects had been cleared because “there is nothing that will connect them to the alleged rebellion that took place.”
“… [T]he mere act of running away from the battle zone cannot implicate them; there is no evidence showing any overt act of complicity to the crime of rebellion or to an armed public uprising; that paraffin tests conducted on them yielded negative results for gunpowder nitrates; to continue to hold them for trial despite absence of probable cause will simply be an injustice,” the resolution, a copy of which was obtained by the Inquirer, said.
Baddiri said the decision was “already final.”
“They could not be jailed again,” he said.
“We will work with other government agencies to ensure the reintegration and rehabilitation of the 42 detainees. They suffered for more than a year. Let us strive to provide them with care and protection,” Baddiri added without naming those who were ordered released.
Mayor Ma. Isabelle Salazar said she was not happy with the way things turned out in the prosecution of the suspected MNLF rebels.
“The local government unit’s legal team worked hard for our defense. We will pursue justice in memory of those who died and the sovereignty of Zamboanga City. At all cost justice must be sought,” Salazar said.
Lawyer Laisa Masuhud-Alamia, the executive secretary of the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao, said the regional government would spend for the return of the released suspects to this city.
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