The Zamboanga City Regional Trial Court on Wednesday ordered the arrest of Moro National Liberation Front (MNLF) leader Nur Misuari and three others, hours after the Department of Justice (DOJ) filed rebellion charges against the former governor.
Prosecutor General Claro Arellano said Judge Eric Elumba of the Regional Trial Court Branch 13 issued the warrants for the arrest of Misuari, Ustadz Habier Malik, Assamin Hussin and Bas Arki.
The four MNLF leaders and 57 others are facing criminal charges for the siege in Zamboanga City which left more than a hundred people dead and thousands of families homeless.
The DOJ also filed charges of violation of International Humanitarian Law against Misuari and Malik. The latter is believed to have led the three-week siege that crippled Zamboanga City last month.
According to Justice Secretary Leila de Lima, the 57 others charged are being held at the San Ramon Prison and Penal Farm.
“Tatlo pong charges ang finile ng mga prosecutors natin. One is rebellion under Article 134 of the RPC [Revised Penal Code]. Two, is the violation of certain provisions of RA 9851 [International Humanitarian Law], because the premise is that the accused are non-state actors who are involved in an international armed conflict and they committed certain acts which are punishable under this particular law. The third charge is violation of Section 4-c of the same law [RA 9851]. So yung isang charge under the law, yun yung violence against to life against persons and the taking of hostages,” de Lima said.
The DOJ chief said that they have many witnesses to pin down Misuari and the others.
“I precisely checked out the evidence and I’m convinced that we have sufficient evidence and strong evidence this time around to prosecute successfully Nur Misuari et. al. Kasi yan exactly ang instruction ng Pangulo,” de Lima said.
Misuari was also charged with rebellion before the Makati Regional Trial Court for allegedly ordering MNLF forces to attack government troops in Sulu on 2001. He was acquitted for lack of evidence.
De Lima also confirmed that the National Prosecution Service through Arellano has asked the Supreme Court to approve the transfer of venue of the trial anywhere in Metro Manila.
“Delikado kasi kung doon pa rin ang magiging venue ng trial and mismong si Mayor Beng Climaco sumulat po siya sa akin at ganun ang sinabi niya na kung pwede humingi ng authorization from the supreme court to transfer the venue of the trial because of the security, very serious security concerns sa Zamboanga,” she said.
Malacanang said that despite the filing of charges against Misuari, the Aquino government remains committed to the pact signed by the government and MNLF in 1996.
”The 1996 Final Peace Agreement stands. We honor that peace agreement regardless who the signatory was,” he said.
Misuari was a signatory to the 1996 peace accord signed during the Ramos administration.
The Palace official also downplayed speculations that the government is abrogating the peace agreement with MNLF.
“The accusation that we abandoned, we neglected MNLF that was being stated by the spokespersons of Nur Misuari, are not true,” Lacierda said. “We have engaged the MNLF communities. Those who have chosen to return to the fold, we have assisted them and this is part of the program,” he added.