MANILA, Philippines – President Rodrigo Duterte revealed on Sunday that he had asked the court to allow Moro National Liberation Front (MNLF) leader Nur Misuari, who is facing several legal cases from the government, to travel abroad.
Misuari is facing rebellion charges for the 2013 Zamboanga siege and is on trial before the Sandiganbayan for graft and malversation for the allegedly anomalous purchase of P77.26 million in “ghost textbooks” when he was still governor of the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (ARMM).
“Now Misuari came to me at my office the other night because he wanted to go out, he was not allowed, because he has a case,” Duterte said in a speech during the campaign rally of the Partido Demokratiko Pilipino-Lakas ng Bayan (PDP-Laban) in Zamboanga City.
Duterte and Misuari met in Malacañang on February 25 with some Cabinet officials for a meeting that lasted for 15 minutes.
READ: Duterte meets Misurari in Malacañang
The day after his meeting with the President, the Sandiganbayan Third Division allowed Misuari granted Misuari’s plea to travel abroad.
READ: Sandiganbayan OKs Misuari foreign trip after arraignment
Misuari left for the United Arab Emirates to attend the 46th session of the Organization of Islamic Cooperation’s (OIC) Council of Foreign Ministers on March 1 to 2 and would be there until March 11 before going to Morocco to attend the 14th session of the Parliamentary Union of OIC member states from March 13 to 14.
“I talked to the police, the military and the court to allow him to go out. I guaranteed that he will come back,” Duterte said in his speech in Zamboanga City.
“Misuari, a true Tausug, would never allow that he be buried in a foreign land. Sigurado ako niyan. That’s why he will come back and help us build a nation,” he added.
In his speech during the groundbreaking ceremony of the Isabela City gymnasium in Basilan before proceeding to Zamboanga City, Duterte said he called authorities to allow Misuari to travel abroad.
I called of course the authority and I said allow him [to travel], he will not escape. Nur Misuari will never abandon his country and I’m sure that he would only prepare to die in this native land,” he said.
His remarks in Zamboanga City were the first time Duterte revealed that he had asked the court to allow Misuari to travel abroad.
He said he would again have a meeting with Misuari once the MNLF leader returned to the country.
“He said, ‘Let’s talk when I return.’ I said, ‘Okay, Nur. Let’s find solutions for those that were not included in the Bangsamoro,’” he said.
Sabi niya, “Mag-usap tayo pagbalik ko.”Sabi ko, ‘Sige Nur. Maghanap tayo ng solusyon sa hindi nasali sa Bangsamoro.”
In a speech on February 26 before a convention of municipal mayors in Manila, the President bared that he had made “some arrangements” to allow Misuari’s travel abroad but was not clear with whom he made the arrangements.
READ: Duterte bares ‘arrangements’ for Misuari’s travel abroad
The President earlier revealed “rumblings” in the MNLF following the ratification of the Bangsamoro Organic Law (BOL).
In the same speech with local chief executives, Duterte said he had ordered Defense Secretary Delfin Lorenzana, Interior Secretary Eduardo Año, Presidential Adviser for the Peace Process Carlito Galvez to craft a new deal with the MNLF of Misuari.
READ: Duterte wants new Misuari deal crafted
Asked about the possible deal, Galvez told INQUIRER.net in a text message that there was nothing definite yet about the matter.
“No definite discussions yet. We might discuss this during our 35th Cabinet meeting on Monday, March 4, 2019,” he said.
Lorenzana, also in a text message, echoed Galvez.
“We will still have to talk about it. We have [not] been given our official marching order and what to do,” he said. /cbb