Suspension of arrest warrant vs Misuari necessary for peace talks—court
The Department of Justice (DOJ) on Thursday clarified that the arrest warrant against Moro National Liberation Front (MNLF) founding chairman Nur Misuari in connection with the 2013 Zamboanga siege was not lifted, contrary to reports.
Justice Secretary Vitaliano Aguirre II said the motion to suspend proceedings was granted, thus the implementation of the arrest warrant was suspended. The suspension shall be for a period of six months from date of the resolution, which was dated Oct. 27.
In the resolution by the Pasig City Regional Trial Court Branch 158, presiding judge Maria Rowena Modesto San Pedro said both the Office of the Presidential Adviser on Peace Process (OPAPP) and the DOJ supported the motion to suspend proceedings and enforcement of arrest warrant against Misuari, which was filed on Oct. 14.
“Stripped to the core, the motion seeks the suspension of proceedings and warrants of arrest against Misuari to allow him to attend peace talk sessions with the government… It appears that suspension of proceedings in the instant cases insofar Misuari is concerned, is needed to allow the much desired peace talks to resume. This would naturally mean that criminal prosecution of Misuari would, in the meantime, be put on hold,” the resolution read.
“This leads the court to the premise that deciding whether deferring prosecutions is necessary to ensure peace is primarily a political assessment. The executive department is better suited to make such a determination than the court, which is a court of law and which cannot become politicized,” it added.
The court said it was aware and convinced of the importance of the peace talks and Misuari’s “vital role” in these talks, which it acknowledged as “exclusively within the realm of the executive department.”
“As it stands, and as manifested by the OPAPP, it has been said to be a top priority of the current administration with the government now in the process of consolidating all agreements with all Moro groups to finally achieve peace in Southern Philippines,” the resolution read.
“The Court is cognizant of the importance of the peace talks which the executive department desires to conduct with Misuari as recognized leader of the MNLF…And the executive department, apart from supporting Misuari’s motion and adopting the prayer therein as its own, has given the clear message to the public that it intends to defer prosecution of Misuari to allow it to proceed with the peace process,” it added.
Earlier reports said Presidential Peace Adviser Jesus Dureza on Thursday personally handed over to Misuari the court order lifting the arrest warrant against him in Jolo, Sulu. Misuari went to Manila and met with President Rodrigo Duterte in Malacañang on Thursday afternoon.
The DOJ previously said it was open to lift the arrest warrant against the MNLF leader for the peace talks between Moro rebels and the government.
The two-week Zamboanga siege in September 2013 left 400 people dead and 100,000 homeless. RAM/rga
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