From the Philippine Star (Jan 1): Misuari still in the country, says De Lima
Moro National Liberation Front (MNLF) founding chairman Nur Misuari is still in the country.
Justice Secretary Leila de Lima said there is no truth to a report that Misuari fled to Guinea to attend a meeting of the Organization of Islamic Cooperation.
“Misuari is still here (in the country). That report was inaccurate,” she said in an interview.
De Lima earlier ordered the National Bureau of Investigation to check the report.
But after checking, NBI agents found no record or any indication that the MNLF leader had indeed left the country.
In a related development, the MNLF rebels arrested for the Zamboanga City siege last October have been transferred to Camp Bagong Diwa in Taguig City.
De Lima said at least 266 MNLF members from the San Ramon Prison and Penal Farm in Zamboanga arrived at their new detention center on Monday morning.
They will stay at Camp Bagong Diwa while standing trial for rebellion and other criminal charges.
“These are high-risk detainees,” De Lima said.
She said five women, two wounded and two minors were not included in the transfer since they “needed special arrangements before they can be transferred.”
A detained MNLF member died last October due to cardiac arrest.
Prosecutors would reportedly tapped two of the rebels as state witnesses.
Camp Bagong Diwa is also where the accused in high-profile cases like the Ampatuans and Abu Sayyaf bandits are detained.
But De Lima said the Bureau of Jail Management and Penology, which manages the facility, provided a separate facility for the MNLF members.
She said a Zamboanga regional trial court judge to whom the cases against the MNLF members were previously assigned, ordered the transfer, which the Department of Justice had sought due to security concerns.
She echoed Zamboanga City Mayor Ma. Isabel Climaco’s belief that the city would not be the most suitable venue to detain and try the MNLF rebels.
“The National Prosecution Service agreed that Zamboanga is a dangerous venue (for the trial) because there are serious security concerns. The probability of the jailed rebels being rescued (by their fellow rebels) is higher in their local area,” she said.
Misuari and his men are facing charges of rebellion and violations of Republic Act 9851 (Philippine Act on Crimes Against International Humanitarian Law, Genocide, and Other Crimes Against Humanity).
Among those charged were Misuari’s commanders Habier Malik, Assamin Hussin and Bas Arki, who are all still at large.
The DOJ recommended no bail for Misuari and his commanders, while their men have to post P200,000 bail in the rebellion case.
On violations of RA 9851, no bail was recommended for all the accused. Last Oct. 9, the court issued arrest warrants for Misuari and his commanders.