ZAMBOANGA City Mayor Beng Climaco vowed to pursue charges against Moro National Liberation Front Chairman Nur Misuari over a 20-day attack by his followers in 2013, which led to the deaths of over 200 people and the displacement of thousands of others.
“Misuari has to be accountable for his alleged crimes. Zamboanga City shall continue to pursue our cases in court against him and the MNLF members responsible for the siege. We trust justice will eventually be served,” Climaco said in a statement Wednesday.
On Thursday, Peace Process Secretary Jesus Dureza flew to Jolo, Sulu to give Misuari a copy of a resolution granting his motion to suspend proceedings against him and to stop the enforcement of warrants of arrest issued by a Pasig Court which granted Misuari’s motion for six months “unless sooner lifted by the court.”
In 2013, an arrest warrant was issued against Misuari and three others over the 20-day attack on Zamboanga City.
The arrest warrants were issued after the Justice department filed rebellion charges against Misuari, MNLF commander Habier Malik, and 60 others.
Misuari, who founded the MNLF has been hiding in plain sight in Sulu, openly mingling with local folk, who have remained loyal to him and protected him from the government.
Climaco said that Dureza informed her of Misuari’s key role to achieve peace in Mindanao and assured her that cases against the recently freed Moro leader hasn’t been dropped.
“Misuari is a key player in the comprehensive and inclusive road to peace that the Duterte administration is now pursuing. Secretary Jess [Dureza] took the effort to explain that Misuari’s release is temporary and subject to several conditions imposed by the court, hearing the cases against him as the aftermath of the Zamboanga incident three years ago,” she said.
“The cases have not been dismissed but the hearings are temporarily suspended including the pending warrants of arrest against him,” she added.
The mayor also expressed her support to “the bold and fresh initiatives of President Duterte to seek sustainable peace with justice in the land.”
The government on Friday expressed optimism after the MNLF agreed to “converge” its peace agreements with the Moro Islamic Liberation Front.
“The peace process in Mindanao is on track with both the MILF and the MNLF on board for a more inclusive resolution to the conflict. They are now willing to sit at the peace table and work together with the government to address the historical injustices committed against the Moro people,” the Office of the Presidential Adviser on the Peace Process said in a statement Friday.
“This is an unprecedented and historic development,” the OPAPP added.
The OPAPP said that the positive response of Misuari to President Rodrigo Duterte’s invitation to participate in the Bangsamoro peace process was a significant step to a comprehensive and inclusive resolution of the decades-long armed conflict in Mindanao.
On Monday, the President will be signing an executive order that will create a “more inclusive” Bangsamoro Transition Commission which would craft a new enabling law to replace the failed Bangsamoro Basic Law of the Aquino administration.
The new BTC will have 21 members, from the previous 15 members in the Comprehensive Agreement in the Bangsamoro to accommodate the MNLF and indigenous people.
In his speech on Thursday, Misuari said only President Duterte can solve the long-standing problem of peace and order in Mindanao.
“This trust in the President’s leadership from the MNLF founder is a key ingredient in the President’s roadmap that will lead us to peace in Mindanao,” the OPAPP said.
“President Duterte’s determination to end the war once and for all during his term has led him to explore creative ways to get all the key actors to the peace table.”
The OPAPP also said they would take into consideration the victims of the 2013 Zamboanga Siege.
“The concern for justice related to the Zamboanga incidents in 2013 as well as other incidents identified by the Transitional Justice and Reconciliation Commission will be dealt with in a comprehensive program,” it said.
The MNLF will be part of the government panel, its chairwoman Irene Santiago said.
“The MNLF will be part of the [government] team. The [government] allotted three spots for the MNLF from the 10 slots allotted for the government side,” Santiago said.
She said that the extended BTC will be composed of 21 members, 11 coming from the MILF including their chairman and 10 from the government side.
Santiago did not disclose the members of the BTC, saying that she is not at liberty to name them.
“After President Duterte signs the EO [Executive Order], the nominees will be informed and they will also be named afterwards,” she said.
She said that Duterte asked the “soon to be members” of the BTC to look into the provisions under the 1996 peace agreement, which were not implemented and all the concerns should be included in the implementing law.
Santiago said the enabling law will be strictly in line with the Comprehensive Agreement of the Bangsamoro, which was passed during the administration of President Benigno Aquino III.
She said all meetings of the BTC will be conducted within the country, while their office will be in Cotabato City.
Previously, the BTC had 15 members, eight of which were from the MILF. The rest came from the government.
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