Nur Misuari’s temporary liberty extended until November 16

DAVAO CITY (MindaNews/21 May) —  Extended for six months.

The regional trial court that last year granted a six-month liberty to Nur Misuari, founding chair of the Moro National Liberation Front (MNLF), has granted him an extension of another six months or until November 16, 2017.

Misuari made his first public appearance after the court granted his motion for extension  on Sunday, May 21, at the Royal Mandaya hotel here at the “Bangsamoro and Federalism” lecture and consultation on Federalism, “focused on its application in Mindanao, Sulu and Palawan.”

MNLF founding chair Nur Misuari delivers a lecture on Bangsamoro and Federalism at the Royal Mandaya Hotel in Davao City on Sunday, May 21, 2017. Misuari’s temporary liberty has been extended until November 16 to allow him to participate in the peace process. MindaNews photo by MANMAN DEJETO

In a three-page resolution dated May 16, Judge Maria Rowena Modesto San-Pedro of the Regional Trial Court Branch 158 in Pasig City granted Misuari’s “Motion for Extension of Period of Suspension of Proceedings and Implementation of Warrant of Arrest” filed on April 26, a day before the six-month temporary liberty Modesto granted on October 27 was scheduled to end.

The court directed the Philippine National Police, Armed Forces of the Philippines, the National Bureau of Investigation and other law enforcement agencies to “suspend as well, the enforcement of the Warrants of Arrest issued against the accused Misuari” within the extended six-month period.

Misuari was in hiding from September 2013 until Judge Modesto granted him temporary liberty in October last year “to allow him to attend peace talk sessions with the government.”

Warrants of arrest had been issued against Misuari and 59 others for rebellion and violation of  Republic Act 9851 or the Philippine Act on Crimes Against International Humanitarian Law, Genocide and other Crimes against Humanity following the September 2013 stand-off in Zamboanga City between his followers and government troops that left 137 persons dead, 251 injured and 118,889 of the city’s 807,000 population displaced, according to the National Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Council’s October 2, 2013 report.

The Department of Justice (DOJ),  the City of Zamboanga and the Office of the Presidential Adviser on the Peace Process (OPAPP) made no objections to Misuari’s October 2016 motion to the court.

In Misuari’s April 2017 motion, the DOJ and OPAPP again posed no objection. The City of Zamboanga “failed to file its Comment/Opposition after moving for time to file the same on 3 May 2017.”

The court noted that the peace process between the government and the MNLF
“has yet to be terminated.”

In fact, there is no formal meeting as yet between the peace implementing panels of the government under Undersecretary Nabil Tan, and the MNLF headed by Randolph Parcasio. But they have held four informal meetings.

The court said the OPAPP had manifested in its sixth monthly report to the court that after the four informal meetings, Misuari “sought the presence of no less than President Rodrigo Roa Duterte to discuss the envisioned new Bangsamoro entity, which was scheduled on the 1st and 2nd week of May.”

The May meeting with the President did not push through. Tan and Parcasio told MindaNews that they are still awaiting the schedule from the Office of the President. The President is leaving for Russia on May 22 and will return to the country on May 26.

Misuari signed the December 23, 1976 Tripoli Agreement under the Marcos administration and the September 2, 1996 Final Peace Agreement under the Ramos administration.

His faction did not participate in the 21-member Bangsamoro Transition Commission (BTC) which is tasked by the government and the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) to draft a Bangsamoro Basic Law  (BBL).

The BTC is set to submit its draft law to the Office of the President on the first week of June, BTC chair Ghazali Jaafar had earlier told MindaNews.

The BBL would pave the way for the creation of the Bangsamoro, a new autonomous political entity that would replace the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (ARMM), in accordance with the Comprehensive Agreement on the Bangsamoro (CAB) that both parties signed on March 27, 2014.

The BTC under the Aquino administration had 15 members. The Duterte administration expanded the membership from 15 to 21 supposedly to “make it more inclusive” and ensure the participation of all the MNLF factions.

There are three representatives of the MNLF in the BTC,  nominated by the MNLF faction under Muslimin Sema and Yusoph Jikiri.

Presidential Adviser on the Peace Process Jesus Dureza set up a separate peace implementing panel for the MNLF-Misuari faction in November to work on draft law that would incorporate the unimplemented provisions of the 1996 Final Peace Agreement to strengthen the ARMM. (Carolyn O. Arguillas / MindaNews)