Gov’t mulls over bounty for Misuari’s capture
MANILA, Philippines—The government is studying the legality of putting up a cash reward for the capture of Moro National Liberation Front founder Nur Misuari even without a court warrant for his arrest in connection with the attack on Zamboanga City by his followers, President Aquino said Wednesday.
After a speech in Pasay City, the President said the government was inclined to put up a bounty for Misuari’s arrest. But the problem was no case has been filed against him, and hence, no warrant has been issued.
“Can we actually offer a reward? My legal counsels are studying the matter clearly so we can be sure we are not violating any law,’’ he told reporters after speaking before the Brotherhood of Christian Businessmen and Professionals in Pasay City.
Misuari is suspected of have instigated a siege of Zamboanga that lasted up to 20 days until last weekend. Some said Misuari felt left out of the government negotiations to forge a peace agreement with the Moro Islamic Liberation Front.
On Sept. 9, MNLF guerrillas landed by boat in the city, threatened to march to city hall, raise a flag and declare independence, but were held back by government forces and took nearly 200 residents hostage.
The siege left 203 persons dead, 176 of them MNLF fighters, and forced more 100,000 people out of their homes, thousands of which were razed to the ground by almost daily fires.
The President, who himself spent more than a week in the city to oversee the military operations, admitted that there were still some stragglers in Zamboanga but said the MNLF force under Habier Malik’s had been crushed.
He said the military has turned over to the police the job of taking out the stragglers, even as the authorities continued to determine what has happened to Malik.
“But the secretary of national defense yesterday emphasized — whether he is alive or not, whether he has escaped or not— the force that he managed to lead in Zamboanga City is a force that no longer exists,’’ he said.
Mr. Aquino said there was no reason to declare an international humanitarian crisis in the city since foreign organizations managed to bring aid to the city.
“There are foreign organizations, and even domestic relief organizations, who have actually been helping from the start, and of course, the private citizenry. I don’t know if we should say ‘humanitarian crisis’,’’ he said.
With the declaration of a state of calamity, the city government has access to its rehabilitation funds, he said.
“We have assured the Zamboanga City LGU, Mayor Climaco in particular, that we will not be scrounging for funds in terms of putting their lives back to order. The funds are available, awaiting only the concrete plan, meaning, all the details,’’ he said.
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