3 more suspected Maute kin freed, relatives cry discrimination

Metro Manila (CNN Philippines, July 11) — After spending a night in jail, a father and his two sons with the surname Maute were released by the police on Tuesday, clearing them of links to the terror group that has laid siege to Marawi.

The Philippine National Police's Criminal Investigation and Detection Group released Yasser Maute, and his two sons, Ashary and Alnizar.

Yasser's other son, 17-year-old Abdul Rahman, was also interrogated by officials of the National Bureau of Investigation yesterday. However, he was immediately released when it was found out that the one who had an arrest warrant was just his namesake.

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Immigration officials stopped them at the Ninoy Aquino International Airport Terminal 3 early Monday afternoon on suspicions of being linked with the ISIS-linked Maute group.

Police said Yasser and his sons carried the same names as those in the Philippines' transnational crime watchlist of people connected to terror groups and activities.

As they were freed Tuesday, the family refused to speak to the camera, but their lawyer Elias Yusoph said they were just namesakes of those on the watchlist.

Yusoph said Yasser had been a gold trader and once ran as municipal mayor for the town of Mulondo, Lanao Del Sur in 2013 mid-term elections.

"Yasser Maute is from the municipality of Mulondo, while the Maute who are the ISIS (linked) are from the municipality of Butig, so they do not have any relation whatsoever," Yusoph said. Mulondo is eight municipalities away from Butig - the reported lair of the local terror group tagged by the government as the "Maute group."

Yusoph added, the family was headed for Malaysia and the elder Maute was just accompanying his sons who were about to start their classes there.

They just arrived from Saudi Arabia after participating in the Umrah or pilgrimage to Mecca to celebrate the Muslim holy month of Ramadan.

Relatives of the detained Maute namesakes were furious waiting outside the CIDG headquarters at Camp Crame in Quezon City.

They condemned what they said was discrimination.

"Masakit ito sa amin eh. Napakasakit nito. Para tayong ano eh... ang martial law doon lang sa Mindanao pero bakit hanggang dito sa Maynila umaabot dito," Alexander Bandrang, Yasser's brother-in-law, said.

[Translation: This is extremely painful for us. It's like...martial law is in effect only in Mindanao but why is it reaching Manila?]

He said they have already obtained a clearance from the NBI.

They reiterated their appeal to authorities and the media not to refer to the terrorists in Marawi as the Maute group, saying it also branded even those innocent people with the same surname as terrorists.

PNP Chief Ronald dela Rosa said the detention of the Maute namesakes was part of security measures amid the declaration of martial law in Mindanao.

"Kung wala talagang makitang legal ground na i-hold sila further eh why hold them further? I-release sila," Dela Rosa said.

[Translation: If there is no legal ground to hold them further, then why hold the, further? Release them.]

Yusoph advised innocent civilians with the Maute surname to submit to the NBI an affidavit to clear them of any affiliation with the terror group.

President Rodrigo Duterte placed the entire island region of Mindanao under martial law on May 23 following clashes between government forces and terrorists in Marawi City in Lanao del Sur.