Sandiganbayan OKs Misuari foreign trip after arraignment
Moro National Liberation Front (MNLF) founding chair Nur Misuari refused to enter a plea during his arraignment on graft and malversation charges at the Sandigabayan on Tuesday but still got the court’s permission to travel abroad.
The Sandiganbayan Third Division entered a not guilty plea on his behalf for the charges in connection with the P77.26-million “ghost textbooks” contracts when he was governor of the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao.
The court said it granted Misuari’s travel request but only after he agreed to be arraigned. It also ordered him to post a P920,000 travel bond.
Misuari last week asked the court to allow him to leave on Wednesday for Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates, to attend the 46th session of the Organization of Islamic Cooperation Council of Foreign Ministers and then fly to Morocco on March 11 for the meeting of the Parliamentary Union of Member OIC States.
Misuari had told the court that his presence at the meetings was important to the peace process in Mindanao.
In its resolution granting his request, the court said it was “not oblivious to the fact that the accused-movant has an important role in the peace efforts in Mindanao” and that his presence in Abu Dhabi and Morocco “may have some national significance.”
Meeting with Du30
Misuari and President Rodrigo Duterte met briefly on the eve of his arraignment.
During their 15-minute meeting in Malacañang on Monday, the President apologized to Misuari for being unable to establish federalism in the country, according to presidential spokesperson Salvador Panelo.
The President also thanked Misuari for his patience on the quest for a federal form of government and agreed to meet again, but Panelo did not know when that would be held.
“The President told the chairman that he admires (Misuari’s) patience and he apologized for not having implemented or enforced whatever agreements they had previously with respect to federalism,” he said.
“From what I gathered they had talks before and they were perhaps agreeing on a modus vivendi. But somehow because of the many matters that have to be attended to by the President, he was not able to attend to it,” Panelo said.
This was why the President was thanking Misuari for being patient and “not (being) pushy” about it, he explained.
Asked whether the President and Misuari discussed the MNLF’s participation in the newly created Bangsamoro Transition Authority (BTA), which will govern the new Bangsamoro autonomous region until 2022, Panelo said this matter was not touched during the meeting.
Several MNLF members had complained about the small representation given to them in the BTA and the appointment of some politicians in the regional interim government.
“If the MNLF was complaining about it, the chairman did not mention it,” Panelo said.
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