MANILA, Philippines – Three days after the police raided the home of Nur Misuari in Zamboanga City, President Benigno Aquino III announced that the rebel leader faces a new case — illegal possession of explosives, which is a non-bailable offense.
Aquino told reporters on Monday, October 7, after the APEC Summit in Bali, Indonesia, that the new charges will be on top of the rebellion raps already filed against the Moro National Liberation Front (MNLF) founding chairman.
Police earlier recommended the filing of rebellion and sedition charges against Misuari for allegedly inciting his followers to attack Zamboanga City. The three-week siege left at least 139 dead and 266 wounded. READ: Zambo crisis: The fog of war
On October 4, when authorities raided Misuari's home in Zamboanga City, they said they seized prohibited devices, including components of an improvised explosive device (IED), Monotom bombs, ammunition of mortar, and MNLF subversive documents.
"Ni-raid iyong bahay dahil sinasabi nitong si [MNLF spokesman Emmanuel] Fontanilla ay hindi raw bahay ni Misuari pero pagka-tagal-tagal ng parang doon siya nakatira pag nasa Zamboanga City," Aquino said. (Misuari's home was raided, and despite Fontanilla's denials that this belongs to Misuari, it turns out he stays there whenever he is in Zamboanga City.)
"May nahanap na mga pinagbabawal na bagay. Bubunutin ko sana iyong telepono ko pero iniwan ko sa Maynila... para precise sana. I think the new case will be illegal possession of explosives which is non-bailable also," the President added. (Police discovered prohibited items during the raid. The details are all in my cell phone, but I left it in Manila.)
Aquino said Justice Secretary Leila de Lima also went to Zamboanga City on October 4 to oversee the cases being prepared against Misuari.
Meanwhile, the hunt for Misuari continues. Authorities also have yet to locate Habier Malik, the commander who led the Zamboanga attacks.
"Our security forces are currently determining the exact position of Mr Misuari and once determined then they willl – and once the warrant is on our possession, we will serve the warrant for the arrest of Mr. Misuari," Aquino said.
Authorities are also investigating reports that MNLF sub-commanders received a "substantial" amount of money amounting to "several millions each," the President said.
But Aquino refused to confirm whether certain personalities indeed financed the siege.
"If we are determining that kind of lead, we will just tell you once we already have a warrant of arrest," Aquino said. "But as of now that [the case] is not strong yet, it's like we're saying, 'Hey, you still have a chance to escape."
Senator Miriam Defensor Santiago earlier accused Senator Juan Ponce Enrile, who is currently facing plunder charges for misuing lawmakers' funds, of financing the Zamboanga attack to divert the public's attention away from the pork barrel scam. - Rappler.com