MNLF wants Misuari arrest warrant withdrawn

By Edith Regalado, The Philippine Star

Posted at Jan 28 2014 05:06 AM | Updated as of Jan 28 2014 01:06 PM

DAVAO CITY , Philippines – The Moro National Liberation Front (MNLF) is demanding that the arrest warrant issued by a Zamboanga City regional trial court against its fugitive founding chairman Nur Misuari be withdrawn.

“We want that the arrest warrant be withdrawn. There is no one that could take his place as the legitimate and real chair of the MNLF,” MNLF Islamic Command Council chair Habib Hashim said.

Misuari has reportedly been in and out of the country after his followers attacked Zamboanga City last September.

Charges of rebellion and violation of Republic Act 9851 (Philippine Act on Crimes Against International Humanitarian Law, Genocide, and Other Crimes Against Humanity) were filed against Misuari and several of his followers before the Zamboanga City RTC last Oct. 7.

The Department of Justice recommended no bail for Misuari and his commanders.

On the separate cases on RA 9851, no bail was recommended for all accused. Last Oct. 9, the RTC issued arrest warrants against Misuari and his commanders.

Clashes between government forces and MNLF rebels lasted for 22 days when more than 400 armed men attacked Zamboanga City last Sept. 9 to capture city hall and raised the flag of the “independent Bangsamoro Republik.”

Some 190 MNLF rebels were killed while 292 other suspects were either captured or have surrendered.

Twenty-three soldiers and policemen were killed and 180 were wounded, while 12 civilians were killed.

At least 120,000 residents were evacuated after the rebels burned houses to derail the military operations against the MNLF fighters.

MNLF spokesman Absalom Cerveza said Misuari is currently in the country but the rebel leader could slip out anytime.

Cerveza was actually waiting for instructions from Misuari last Sunday while he was holding a press briefing at a Davao City hotel.

“He is now in a very safe place. And he is in perfect and robust health,” Cerveza said.

He said Misuari is “some distance away” where there is no cell site, which makes it difficult to contact the MNLF chairman.

Cerveza said authorities could not find Misuari.

“Of course they could not find the chairman because they are not looking for him at all,” Cerveza said.