Nur Misuari seeks dismissal of graft, malversation charges

Published September 18, 2018, 12:26 PM

by Patrick Garcia


By Czarina Nicole Ong

Former Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (ARMM) Gov. Nur Misuari is asking the Sandiganbayan Third Division to junk his two graft and two malversation through falsification charges since the irregular transactions he was being accused of took place during the term of his successor.

Nur Misuari

He was charged in connection with the reportedly anomalous purchase of different educational packages and materials from 2000 to 2001.

Misuari stated in his omnibus motion to dismiss and defer arraignment that based on records obtained from the Department of Budget and Management (DBM), the payments for the irregular transactions were made during the term of Gov. Parouk Hussein from September 30, 2002 to September 30, 2005.

“Accused Nur Misuari is not liable for anomalous payment of ‘ghost textbooks’ committed during the succeeding administration,” his motion read. “It is likewise clear as day that accused Nur Misuari did not receive any money or funds subject matter of the complaint as the demand for payment was made when he was no longer performing the functions of the Office of the Regional Governor of ARMM.”

He added that there was no conspiracy between him and his co-accused, since he was in detention for more than six years since January 7, 2002 until his release in 2008 when he was finally granted bail.

Prior to his detention in the Philippines, he was illegally held in detention in Malaysia from December 2001 to January 2002.

“There is nothing in the record of these cases to show accused Nur Misuari had any dealing with any of the co-accused during his more than six years of continuous detention in Malaysia and the Philippines from 2001 to 2008 regarding the alleged anomalous transactions,” the motion read. “Moreover, he had no influence or any moral ascendancy over them at all not only because he was facing charges and detained but also because he was no longer the regional governor of ARMM.”

Even when he was still governor, Misuari said his co-accused were not under his direct control. In fact, they worked directly under the Regional Cabinet Secretary of the ARMM Department of Education and Sports.

At the same time, the departmental documents pertaining to the subject transactions were not brought to Misuari for review. Instead, they were reviewed, signed and approved by the Regional Cabinet Secretary of the Regional Department.

“For this reason, accused was absolutely oblivious to the irregular transactions subject of this case until publications have described his alleged involvement, the Information filed, and the warrant for his arrest was issued,” the motion stated.

Lastly, Misuari harped on the delay in the conduct of the preliminary investigation and the filing of the criminal charges against him before the Sandiganbayan. He said the cases were brought to the Ombudsman for investigation on November 6, 2013.

But even without conducting a preliminary investigation, the Ombudsman – Military and Other Law Enforcement Officers (MOLEO) filed the Information before the Sandiganbayan on May 5, 2017.

On November 27 that same year, the Sandiganbayan ordered the Ombudsman a non-extendable period of 60 days to conclude its preliminary investigation against Misuari. However, it took them 118 days to do so since it rendered a Resolution dated March 26, 2018.

“Certainly, this is a very long period of time and is contrary to the enshrined Constitutional right to speedy trial and disposition of cases,” he said.

Misuari further stressed that the prolonged inaction of the Ombudsman is vexatious, capricious and oppressive. It is also prejudicial to his cases since there will be difficulty in securing witnesses and records for his defense.

Earlier in April, the prosecution decided to retract two out of the six criminal charges filed against Misuari due to lack of evidence.

In its resolution, the prosecution maintained that it was correct in indicting Misuari on June 17, 2016 due to his reportedly anomalous transactions with CPR Publishing House and MBJ Learning Tools for the crimes of graft and malversation through falsification.

However, the same cannot be said of his charges involving White Orchids Printing and Publishing House because they can no longer secure the necessary evidence for it.

Misuari was accused of causing the payment of P31,000,000 to MBJ Learning Tools on December 21, 2000 for the purchase of Information Technology package even though it was not delivered.

Then on July 24, 2001, he was once again implicated for paying P46,261,250 to CPR for the procurement of Multi-Media Information Technology Package despite the fact that these goods were not delivered.

Finally in September 2001, Misuari paid P37,959,204 to White Orchids for the procurement of educational materials even though no such materials were actually delivered.

As for his malversation through falsification charges, he was accused of misappropriating the funds of the Department of Education (DepEd – ARMM) in the abovementioned amounts by means of falsifying requisition vouchers, purchase orders, sales invoice, disbursement vouchers, schedules of accounts payable, and other similar documents.

After the charges were filed, the Office of the Special Prosecutor requested the members of the audit team of the Commission on Audit (COA), who conducted the audit on the transaction with White Orchids, to produce documents relative to the said transaction.

In response, the COA audit team issued affidavits, letters, and certifications stating that the requested documents are not in their possession and they could no longer locate them.

A similar request was made to the Fact Finding Investigation Bureau of the Office of the Deputy Ombudsman for the Military and Other Law Enforcement Offices (FFIB-MOLEO), but they cannot locate the documents as well.

The Ombudsman then directed the Regional Secretary of the DepEd ARMM to produce the required documents, but the same answer was given. Because of this, the prosecution has no choice but to withdraw the two charges.