Arrest warrants out vs Misuari, Malik, 2 others

MANILA, Philippines (3rd UPDATE) - A judge on Wednesday, October 9, ordered the arrest of Nur Misuari, Habier Malik and two other commanders of the Moro National Liberation Front (MNLF) following the filing of rebellion charges against them.

Judge Eric Elumba, presiding judge of branch 13 of the Zamboanga Regional Trial Court, issued the warrants two days after the justice department filed rebellion charges and cases of violation of international humanitarian law (IHL) against the 4 and 57 others who are detained in Zamboanga City.

The other commanders ordered arrested were Bas Akri and Assamin Hussin.

The cases that were filed on Monday, October 7, at the Zamboanga Regional Trial Court were based on the testimonies of more than two dozen witnesses, including Catholic priest Michael Ufana, who was held hostage by Malik during the siege and released on September 13.

Justice Secretary Leila de Lima told reporters on Wednesday, October 9, that the rebellion charges were based on the rebels' plan to hoist a flag at the city hall to declare independence, attacks on government forces, destruction of property and arson.

"More or less 9,732 houses and buildings" in Zamboanga City were burned during the 3-week standoff, according to a press statement issued by De Lima's office. Damage to property was estimated at P200 million, the same statement added. 

The rebels were also charged with violating IHL for hurting civilians, turning them into hostages, and using them as shields. The department said at least 10 hostages were killed while 75 others were hurt in the process.

No bail was recommended for the 4 at large MNLF officials.

The department recommended a P200,000-bail for the 57 followers presently detained in the city. However, it did not recommend any bail for them under the second charge of violations of international humanitarian law, which are spelled out in RA 9851. 

On October 3, the police lodged rebellion complaints against the rebels before prosecutors in Zamboanga City. It took the prosecutors two working days to find prima facie evidence against the rebels and file the cases in court.

Misuari is accused of sending his armed MNLF followers to Zamboanga on September 9 to try to block a proposed peace deal between the government and a rival Muslim rebel group. READ: Bungled chances in Zamboanga City

The incursion sparked 3 weeks of street battles with elite military forces that forced more than 100,000 people to flee their homes.

The MNLF has been griping about government's alleged neglect of a peace deal that the rebels signed in 1996. - Rappler.com