Misuari convicted of graft over P77-M ARMM ghost projects

Jairo Bolledo

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Misuari convicted of graft over P77-M ARMM ghost projects

MNLF. Photo of MNLF leader Nur Misuari.

Rene B. Lumawag

The Sandiganbayan convicts Nur Misuari of graft but acquits him of malversation in relation to the purchase of non-existent educational materials of the now-defunct Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao when he was its governor

MANILA, Philippines – The anti-graft court Sandiganbayan has convicted Moro National Liberation Front (MNLF) leader Nur Misuari of graft in relation to P77 million worth of ghost projects in the now-defunct Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (ARMM) when he was its governor.

In a decision promulgated on Friday, May 24, the Sandiganbayan found Misuari guilty of two counts of graft but acquitted him of two counts of malversation. Misuari’s counsel, Ma. Victoria Lim-Florido, said they will appeal the graft conviction.

In 2017, Misuari was charged before the Sandiganbayan with three counts each of graft and of malversation in relation to P115 million worth of non-existent educational materials when he was ARMM governor in 2000 and 2001.

The Sandiganbayan later amended the case and charged Misuari with two counts each of graft and malversation. The amount of the transactions was placed at P77 million instead.

According to the Ombudsman’s charge sheet, Misuari authored the purchase of the materials in question for three separate educational projects in the ARMM. However, investigators found that all these materials were never delivered.

In September 2017, the anti-graft court ordered Misuari’s arrest. He later posted a P460,000-bail for his provisional liberty.

A year later, in 2018, the Sandiganbayan denied Misuari’s plea to dismiss the corruption cases against him and set his arraignment in January 2019 but he was a no-show.

Aside from his corruption case, Misuari was charged with rebellion and crimes against humanity over the 2013 Zamboanga siege that claimed over 200 lives. Months into his administration in 2016, then-president Rodrigo Duterte ordered concerned government agencies to seek the suspension of Misuari’s arrest warrant so that Misuari could participate in his “campaign for peace” in Mindanao.

Duterte had even allowed Misuari to take the presidential podium in Malacañang’s Ceremonial Hall during an official event on November 3, 2016 – just hours after the suspension of his arrest warrants were made public – and address the guests and effectively, the whole nation, as the event was broadcast live.

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Jairo Bolledo

Jairo Bolledo is a multimedia reporter at Rappler covering justice, police, and crime.