DOJ: Drop charges vs 59 MNLFs in Zambo siege PDF Print E-mail
Saturday, 29 November 2014 14:05

The Department of Justice has recommended the dismissal of the criminal charges against 59 of the more than 200 alleged members of the Moro National Liberation Front (MNLF) implicated in the Zamboanga siege in September 2013.

Justice Secretary Leila de Lima on Thursday said the DOJ came up with the recommendation after the Pasig court handling the rebellion case ordered the prosecution to undertake a re-investigation.

“Sa tingin ng court, may mga akusado na hindi na-establish ang role,” De Lima told reporters in Manila.

De Lima said it was up to the court whether or not to approve the prosecution panel’s recommendation.

De Lima clarified that MNLF chairman Nur Misuari is still among those remaining in the charge sheet, even as she said police and military forces continue to hunt down the MNLF leader.

Charges of rebellion and violation of the Philippine Act on Crimes Against International Humanitarian Law, Genocide, and Other Crimes Against Humanity were filed in two batches in October and December 2013 against MNLF chairman Nur Misuari and more than 270 others for the assault on Zamboanga City.

Charged at the time along with Misuari were some of his commanders including Habier Malik. The charges were filed before the Zamboanga City Regional Trial Court on October 7.

Misuari, Malik, and two others are still at large while 57 of those charged are being held at the San Ramon Prison and Penal Farm in Zamboanga City.

Arellano said all the cases will have to be transferred to Metro Manila since the Zamboanga Hall of Justice was damaged during fighting between the MNLF and government forces.

The Supreme Court last year approved the transfer of the first batch of cases, including the one against Misuari, from Zamboanga to Manila.

The DOJ said the attack on Zamboanga resulted in several casualties and extensive damage within the city, particularly in barangays Mariki, Rio Hondo, Sta. Barbara, Sta. Catalina, Kasanyangan, Talon-talon, and Mampang.

Misuari and his men were charged with rebellion for taking up arms and attacking government security forces and civilians, and by committing “acts of murder, pillage, disorder, looting, arson, and destruction of private and public properties.”

They were also charged for their acts of violence against residents who did not take an active part in the armed hostilities, and for taking non-combatant civilians as hostages during the fighting.

The Zamboanga City attack led to the deaths of 12 people, and injuries to 75 percent of civilians.

The criminal charges also covered the armed group’s breaking into houses, taking about 300 hostages whom they used as human shields, and the burning of 9,732 houses and buildings, both public and private, causing more than P200 million in damage.

The Office of the Presidential Adviser on the Peace Process had earlier made clear that neither Misuari nor the members of his group who joined the fighting in Zamboanga City represent the MNLF, which signed a final peace agreement with the government in 1996. — KG, GMA News