Sandiganbayan warns Misuari to comply with travel conditions or face sanctions
MANILA, Philippines – The Sandiganbayan has warned Moro National Liberation Front (MNLF) founding chair Nur Misuari against violating the terms of his travel bond after he failed to show up in court after a recent 23-day trip to the Middle East.
In a resolution dated May 22, the Sandiganbayan’s Third Division, however, denied the prosecution’s motion to arrest Misuari for not appearing before the court five days after arriving in the Philippines.
The court also rejected a request to forfeit the bail and travel bonds he posted for his temporary liberty and travel.
The former MNLF chief traveled to Abu Dhabi in the United Arab Emirates and the Kingdom of Morocco from February 26 to March 20, 2019 for meetings with the Organization of Islamic Cooperation (OIC).
The Sandiganbayan said the reasons presented by Misuari — such as conducting “intensive and exhaustive consultations with his field commanders and advisers” and preparing for “further talks with the president — are “valid and accepted.”
“Misuari himself understands this condition but cites reasons for his inability to comply. However, the prosecution vehemently remains unmoved,” the resolution, penned by Associate Justice Benelito Fernandez, said.
The anti-graft court also noted that “this is the first time that accused-movant Misuari traveled outside the Philippines.”
Still, he was reminded that the court’s decision did not mean that the rules on travel bonds were being adjusted to his reasons and that another violation would warrant more severe punishment.
“However, it must be emphasized that this leniency should not be interpreted as a relaxation of the conditions that may be imposed for foreign travels of accused-movant Misuari in the future,” the anti-graft court said.
During his arraignment for graft and malversation charges concerning a P77.26 million’ ghost textbook contracts, Misuari did not enter a plea. However, the court still allowed him to travel after posting a bond worth P920,000.
Misuari, the former governor of the now-defunct Autonomous Region for Muslim Mindanao (ARMM), has apologized to the court for his actions. The prosecution countered by saying that he should not be treated differently from other accused individuals who have violated the terms of a travel bond.
Last March 4, President Rodrigo Duterte admitted that he asked the court to allow Misuari to travel abroad because he believes the latter — whom he described as a true Tausug — would return to the country and help his government.
“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. “I talked to the police, the military, and the court to allow him to go out. I guaranteed that he will come back.”
“Misuari, a true Tausug, would never allow that he be buried in a foreign land. Sigurado ako niyan (I’m sure of that). That’s why he will come back and help us build a nation,” he added. (Editor: Eden Estopace)
Subscribe to INQUIRER PLUS to get access to The Philippine Daily Inquirer & other 70+ titles, share up to 5 gadgets, listen to the news, download as early as 4am & share articles on social media. Call 896 6000.