ZAMBOANGA CITY—Despite President Rodrigo Duterte's inclination to withdraw the arrest warrant against Moro National Liberation Front (MNLF) founding chairman Nur Misuari, the Zamboanga City government reiterated that it will persist with its case against him for the siege which occurred in 2013.
The Zamboanga City local government had filed a case against Misuari and his followers for violation of humanitarian law, which is pending at the Pasig City Regional Trial Court.
According to Zamboanga City Mayor Maria Isabel Climaco-Salazar, the case is in the interest of those who died and whose lives changed because of the 21-day siege which killed more than 200 civilians, soldiers, and rebels. Thus, they are standing firm in making Misuari and the MNLF answer for what happened.
For former Zamboanga City Siege hostages, news that Duterte wants the arrest warrant on Misuari lifted is only another hurdle in their quest for justice.
"Wala man din kami magawa kung iyon ang gusto ni president (We can’t do anything about it, if that’s what the president wants)," said 64-year-old siege survivor Caridad Delgado.
Memories of the crisis, when the MNLF attacked Zamboanga City and took hostages during the Misuari faction’s heavy firefight with the Armed Forces, still haunt her, she said, which is why she did not go back to her home.
Delgado was among the many hostages who were taken by the MNLF on September 9, 2013. She cannot forget the fear and difficulty her family experienced. She likened the experience to a shrapnel wound on her shoulder which she sustained during a heavy firefight in KJK building in Lustre, Sta. Catalina during the siege. The wound may have healed she said, but the scar remains.
Another siege survivor, Nika Joy Ramos, said that while her family was traumatized by the events of 2013, they had to move on like everybody else.
Ramos' family members were among the hostages taken by the MNLF. Her cousin was killed during one of the firefights during the siege.
Misuari was credited by the administration for his help in the release of Abu Sayyaf hostages, who included Norwegian Kjartan Sekkingstad.
When asked why Misuari was not arrested when he turned over the Abu Sayyaf hostages to the government, Presidential Peace Adviser Jesus Dureza said that Misuari’s help was “independent” of the cases pending against him.
Duterte, who has repeatedly mentioned that he is of Moro heritage, said that Misuari’s arrest might scuttle peace efforts with the MNLF.