It will be Misuari’s first homecoming since he left Sulu in late November 2001. He is presently facing charges of rebellion for allegedly leading an uprising in Sulu and in Zambaonga City in late November 2001.
Misuari through his lawyer Artur Lim, asked the court on November 14 to allow him to register as voter at the Commission on Elections (Comelec) in Jolo, Sulu or its main office in Manila, claiming his name was stricken off the list in Jolo. Misuari’s detention pending trial, his lawyer said, “ should not bar him from exercising his right to vote or even to run for public office.”
Misuari registered as voter weeks before he signed the Final Peace Agreement on September 2, 1996. He was arrested in Sabah in late November 2001 and was brought to Fort Sto. Domingo in Sta. Rosa Laguna on January 7, 2002 in the “detention bungalow” earlier prepared for ousted president Joseph Estrada where he stayed until his transfer to the St. Luke’s Hospital and later to a house near it, early this year.
Misuari said his name was stricken off the voters’ list in Jolo for allegedly failing to vote in the May 2004 national elections and August 2005 ARMM elections.
Randolph Parcasio, one of Misuari’s legal counsels, told MindaNews, the Comelec main office did not allow Misuari to register, hence the registration in Jolo.
Dureza said the Office of the Presidential Adviser on the Peace Process (OPAPP) was tasked by the court to facilitate Misuari’s movement from his detention house in New Manila, Quezon City, to Jolo in Sulu and back.
Misuari’s Jolo trip is the sixth time this year that the court granted him permission to leave his detention facility. The first was in January to join the Eid’l Adha celebration in Taguig, Rizal; the second was at St. Luke’s Hospital in Quezon City, where he stayed for several weeks and moved to his new detention house in New Manila, near St. Luke’s.
The third was an 18-hour leave to attend the 10th anniversary observance of the 1996 Final Peace Agreement in Davao City on September 2; the fourth was to mark the end of the Ramadhan; the fifth was in the Comelec main office and the sixth is Thursday’s trip to Jolo to register as voter.
The Organization of the Islamic Conference (OIC) had repeatedly urged government to release Misuari. The OIC also wants Misuari to attend the tripartite review of the 1996 peace agreement in Jeddah, Saudi Arabia on February 6 to 8 next year. (Carolyn O. Arguillas/MindaNews)