Nur Misuari no-show in arraignment at Sandiganbayan

Lian Buan

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Nur Misuari no-show in arraignment at Sandiganbayan
The Moro National Liberation Front (MNLF) leader has not once set foot at the anti-graft court

MANILA, Philippines – Moro National Liberation Front (MNLF) leader Nur Misuari was a no-show at his scheduled arraignment before the anti-graft court Sandiganbayan on Friday, January 25.

Only Misuari’s lawyer, Robert Callos, was present on Friday. Callos insisted before the Sandiganbayan 3rd Division that the arraignment be deferred because his client had filed a Motion for Reconsideration (MR) on January 14.

The 3rd Division reset the arraignment for February 27. Arraignments, whether or not they will be deferred, require the personal appearance of the accused.

Misuari has not once set foot in Sandiganbayan since he was charged there for two counts of graft and two counts of malversation over P77 million worth of non-existent educational materials. (Amended from 3 counts each of graft and malversation worth P115 million.)

Misuari paid his bail at the Davao City Regional Trial Court (RTC).

The 3rd Division already denied Misuari’s Motion to Dismiss late last year, but he availed of the remedy to appeal the denial of that motion.

Misuari again insisted that the allegedly anomalous transactions were “consummated” from 2003 to 2004, two years after he had already stepped down as governor of the  Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (ARMM).

Ombudsman prosecutors said in their opposition filed on January 22 that the two separate vouchers worth P77 million were signed in December 2000 and July 2001, when Misuari was still governor. Misuari signed both vouchers in his capacity as governor.

“It is clear that accused Misuari participated in the commission of the offenses charged in the sense that without his approval, the transactions subject of the cases will not push through,” said the prosecution.

Misuari was charged with rebellion and crimes against humanity over the 2013 Zamboanga siege, but President Rodrigo Duterte granted him freedom to be able to participate in the peace talks.

Following the  Bangsamoro Organic Law plebiscite – product of an agreement with the Moro Islamic Liberation Front – Duterte said he would want to confer again with the MNLF leader for a new agreement.

Duterte said Misuari has committed to talk to the government after the plebiscite is done.

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Lian Buan

Lian Buan is a senior investigative reporter, and minder of Rappler's justice, human rights and crime cluster.