Court order for Misuari’s arrest could impact Philippine peace process

Court order for Misuari’s arrest could impact Philippine peace process
This photo taken on May 28, 2016 shows Moro National Liberation Front (MNLF) chairman Nur Misuari (C) speaking during an interview at his mountain lair in Indanan town, Jolo province, in southern island of Mindanao. (AFP)
Updated 08 September 2017

Court order for Misuari’s arrest could impact Philippine peace process

Court order for Misuari’s arrest could impact Philippine peace process

MANILA: A senior security official on Thursday said the Bangsamoro peace process could be impacted by a court order to arrest Moro National Liberation Front (MNLF) founding Chairman Nur Misuari.
The court confirmed that a copy of the arrest warrant, dated Aug. 31, has been sent to the Philippine National Police (PNP), the Criminal Investigation and Detection Group (CIDG) and the National Bureau of Investigation (NBI) for implementation.
The court said it found probable cause to try the MNLF leader on charges of graft and corruption while serving as governor of the Autonomous Region of Muslim Mindanao (ARMM).
“If the arrest is consummated and Misuari is jailed,” it will potentially affect the peace process, the official told Arab News, on condition of anonymity.
“The government will be seen as deceptive and insincere toward the peace process,” and “Misuari will use it as another form of sacrifice that will rally his supporters behind him. Who will believe that a nearly 20-year-old case was brought up against him except for harassment?” the official added.
“His supporters will protest. It will be seen as political harassment and place the government in a bad light.” As such, the official said he expects President Rodrigo Duterte to defend Misuari.
But presidential spokesman Ernesto Abella said the issue is an administrative case, “something that was taken up before the (peace) talks.” The security official said whether Duterte helps or not, “either way Misuari wins.”
His lawyer Emmanuel Fontanilla said in a text message to reporters that his client “will respect due process… but sad because the Philippines and MNLF have agreements which provide that any conflict be resolved by the parties.”
Misuari also faces charges of committing crimes against humanity and rebellion in connection with the 2013 Zamboanga siege that left at least 200 people dead.
Arrest warrants were issued against him and 59 others co-accused in the case, but in 2016 a court gave Misuari temporary liberty to allow him to attend peace talks with the government.