Judge Winlove Dumayas of the Regional Trial Court Branch 59 ordered Misuari to post P50,000 bail for his temporary liberty.
Presidential Adviser on the Peace Process Jesus Dureza welcomed the decision and said he hopes “that with his temporary liberty, Chairman Nur will continue to be an important player in the Mindanao peace process.”
Dureza told MindaNews that the Organization of the Islamic Conference (OIC), the 57-nation pan-Islamic body where the MNLF holds an observer status, has scheduled a tripartite review of the implementation of the 1996 Final Peace Agreement, on May 27 to 29 this year, in Manila.
Misuari, a former University of the Philippines professor who became chair of the Moro National Liberation Front, signed the December 23, 1976 Tripoli Peace Agreement and the September 2, 1996 Final Peace Agreement.
Leadership squabbles among various factions in the MNLF have led to Misuari’s ouster as chair, twice — first in April 2001 by a group claiming itself to be the MNLF Executive Council of 15 and last month by another group that elected Cotabato City Mayor Muslimin Sema as its new chair.
Sema was Misuari’s secretary-general in the MNLF and was vice chair of the MNLF peace panel that negotiated the final peace agreement from 1992 to the signing of the peace pact in 1996.
Misuari has been in detention since November 24, 2001 when he was arrested for alleged illegal entry in an island off Sabah, Malaysia. He was fetched by Dureza from an air base near Kuala Lumpur on January 7, 2002, to face charges of rebellion back home.
Misuari’s first detention center was the Sta. Rosa, Laguna bungalow earlier built as detention center for deposed President Joseph Estrada. He stayed there until early 2006 when he was moved to St. Luke’s hospital where he spent several months before moving over to a house in New Manila, Quezon City, near St. Luke’s.
The court granted Misuari’s requests to attend special occasions like the Eid’l Fitr and allowed him to fly to Davao City to attend the 10th anniversary of the 1996 Final Peace Agreement that he signed with the Philppine government.
Misuari’s petition for bail was actually denied on December 18 last year. But Misauri appealed the decision on the grounds that “the charges being based on alleged conspiracy, bail cannot be granted to his co-accused without according him the same privilege.”
“To deny him bail while granting it to his co-accused infringes on the constitutional guarantee of equal protection of the law; and, the accused movant is entitled to bail as the evidence against him is weak,” Misauri’s motion read.
In his one-page order, Judge Dumayas found merit on Misuari’s contention that “the culpability being premised on the alleged conspiracy between all the accused to commit rebellion, it follows therefore that the guilt of one is the guilt of all, and that lack of evidence against some is lack of evidence against all.” (Carolyn O. Arguillas/MindaNews)