Free pass doesn’t mean Nur off hook, says Palace
Criminal cases against Moro National Liberation Front (MNLF) founder Nur Misuari will be pursued despite President Duterte’s order to law enforcement agencies not to arrest him, Malacañang said on Thursday.
Presidential spokesperson Ernesto Abella said the President’s stand-down order to the police and the military was not meant to violate the law or disrespect the court that issued the arrest warrant for Misuari.
Abella said the Commander in Chief’s directive was a “strategic move” to broker peace with the Misuari-led faction of the MNLF and end a decades-long secessionist rebellion.
“It’s not a question of (violating the law) because the man (Misuari) is not fleeing anyway. . . The man is there and he’s willing to talk,” Abella said in a press briefing in Malacañang.
“It’s . . . a strategic move because… (as the President said) if anything happened to the man while he was in our custody, it would really be trouble for us,” Abella said.
On Wednesday, Mr. Duterte disclosed that in a phone conversation with Misuari, they agreed to meet in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, to resume peace negotiations between the government and the MNLF.
Mr. Duterte told the police and military not to arrest Misuari if they saw him.
Abella, when reminded that only the courts could issue and lift arrest warrants, said: ” I don’t think the cases (against Misuari) are being dismissed. . . It’s just a question of strategic choice… it’s the tactical choice (of the President).”
Misuari has been in hiding since he was ordered arrested for allegedly leading more than 200 MNLF fighters in the violent siege on Zamboanga City in September 2013 that left more than 200 people dead and hundreds wounded.
The siege displaced some 100,000 residents of coastal villages, many of whom are still in evacuation centers.
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