THE Philippine National Police (PNP) expressed dismay Thursday, March 8, over the dismissal of charges against a Tunisian national who was believed to be linked with international terrorist group Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS).
"This is a sad and unfortunate news for the PNP. Anyway this is not yet final. The arresting officers can still avail of other legal remedies like filing a petition for review before the secretary of the DOJ," PNP spokesperson Chief Superintendent John Bulalacao said.
"(In the) meantime, let us just leave this first to the disposition of the investigating teams or their legal officers," he added.
In its resolution issued on March 5, the Department of Justice dismissed the charges of illegal possession of firearms and ammunition against Fehmi Lassoued and his Filipina partner Anabel Moncera Salipada over lack of merit.
The DOJ noted that pistols allegedly recovered from the couple during their arrest on February 16 in their rented place in Malate, Manila were fake and the photos of the supposed evidence which was presented to the court does not include the respondents nor the arresting officers.
It said there were photos of the evidence together with the arrested persons but it was taken in another place and not in their apartment unit.
PNP chief Ronald dela Rosa presented Lassoed and Salipada on February 19 as suspected ISIS members.
The PNP said based on investigation, Lassoued is a native of Egypt but entered the country in July 2016 with a fake Tunisian passport which made him suspicious.
However, Dela Rosa said earlier that a much deeper investigation is underway to determine the extent of his involvement with the local and international terror groups such as those involved in the Marawi siege.
In their counter-affidavit, Lassoued and Salipada both denied the allegations.
Lassoued said he was arrested in Ayala Triangle while having a cigarette break from a Spanish language class, contrary to the claims of the police.
He also claimed that the illegal contraband which police claimed to have been recovered from their apartment during the raid was not his and that the first time he saw it was during his presentation to the media. (SunStar Philippines)