President Rodrigo Duterte admitted he had a hand Nur Misuari’s temporary freedom to travel to Morocco despite the number of pending cases against the rebel group leader which should have withheld his travel rights.
Misuari, founder of the Moro National Liberation Front (MNLF), is currently facing corruption and rebellion charges linked to the Zamboanga siege in 2013.
Duterte said at the general assembly of the League of Municipalities that he ordered the police and the military not to arrest Misuari and allow him to leave the country for official business.
“He was not allowed by the court to go out because he has pending charges when he was armed. So I had to make some arrangements. I told them, this is a personal request of mine, which I do not do at any time, at any other time,” the president said.
Misuari posted bail at the Sandiganbayan to attend the Organization of Islamic Cooperation summit in the United Arab Emirates and the Parliamentary Union of the OIC member states in Morocco.
According to Defense Secretary Delfin Lorenzana, Misuari may also be appointed as an emissary to the UAE.
Some Filipinos questioned Duterte’s lax behavior toward the latter given his criminal record.
People died during the Zamboanga seige including military personnel. A court has issued a warrant of arrest against Nur…
Charges against the former governor
Misuari was charged on two counts each of graft and malversation of over P115 million worth of non-existent educational materials in 2000 and 2001 during his governance in ARMM.
He paid P460,000 in bail and accused the court of violating his right to a speedy trial.
He also paid another P920,000 in travel bond to the 3rd division of Sandiganbayan, which is hearing these cases, in exchange for leave of court after his arraignment.
Misuari and members of the MNLF were charged with rebellion and sedition cases in connection to the deadly 20-day attack in Zamboanga city in September 2013.
It left nearly 200 people dead and 14,000 more displaced.
In 2016, Misuari was granted a temporary suspension of his arrest as requested by Duterte, who had asked for his help in the peace negotiations in Mindanao.
In 2018, a court also allowed the release of 97 members of the MNLF involved in the siege.
Initiative for peace talks
Duterte met with Misuari for a few minutes on the evening of February 25 to discuss MNLF’s complaints or rumblings on the composition of the new Bangsamoro Transition Authority or BTA.
Misuari, however, did not provide any specifics on these complaints and would seek another dialogue.
“I told Nur we are on good terms. Nur said he is willing to talk and he has waited this long for me to make a decision when he comes back. Maybe it’s age. He only wants to talk. He does not want to fight,” Duterte said.
The BTA, the interim governing body of the newly created Bangsamoro Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao, comprises members of the rival Moro Islamic Liberation Front, including its chairman Al Hadj Murad Ebrahim.
Misuari, who was the first governor of the previous Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao, sought to have more seats in the 80-member body.
MILF members were initially part of the MNLF, but eventually broke off before the historic peace agreement with the government during the presidency of Fidel Ramos in 1996.
Since then, the MILF has not yet fully achieved another peace deal with the MNLF and the government.