By Czarina Nicole Ong
Former Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (ARMM) Governor Nur Misuari is asking permission from the Sandiganbayan Third Division to be allowed to travel to Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates, and Morocco this March.
Misuari bared in his motion that he wished to attend the 48th Session of the Organization of Islamic Cooperation Council (OIC) of Foreign Ministers and the 14th Session of the Parliamentary Union of Islamic Cooperation (PUIC) Member States.
The first event will take place on March 1 and 2 at Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates. The second one will be held on March 13 and 14 in Rabat, Morocco.
He plans to leave the country on February 27 and fly to Abu Dhabi. He will stay there before flying to Morocco on March 11. After which, he will fly back to the Philippines either on March 16 or 17 and return no later than the 20th.
Misuari said this will give him plenty of time before his scheduled arraignment on March 27.
He explained that the OIC is an active participant in the conduct of the peace process to resolve the armed conflict in Southern Philippines.
It was the peace process that led to the signing of the 1996 Final Peace Agreement between the Philippine government, Moro National Liberation Front (MNLF) and the OIC on September 2, 1996.
“The accused Chairman Nur Misuari is a signatory to the 1996 Final Peace Agreement and as such he is expected to deliver his message during the plenary session of the proceedings of the OIC Ministerial meeting regarding the developments of the implementation of the peace agreement in Southern Philippines, Mindanao and the Sulu Archipelago,” the motion read.
He added that his participation in the upcoming meetings will “greatly benefit the Philippines in terms of ending the armed conflict in Mindanao and to improve the Philippine economy as a whole.”
Meanwhile, the prosecution opposed his travel and stated that there was “no urgent or compelling reason” for him to do so. The opposition said that Misuari failed to show how his presence in the said events would be “indispensable,” or that “the aforesaid sessions will not push through without his presence.”
Insofar as the 14th session of the PUIC Conference, the prosecution countered that Misuari was merely invited as an observer. “This will bolster the fact that his presence therein is not indispensable. Hence, the reasons proferred by accused will not suffice to grant him the authority to travel abroad,” the opposition read.
The prosecution added that Misuari did not indicate his specific itinerary while in Abu Dhabi, and he is even unsure of his date of departure from Morocco. “All the foregoing circumstances point to an ever-present, underlying high risk of flight,” the prosecution warned.
The travel motion and opposition have now been submitted to the court for resolution.
Misuari was earlier slapped with two graft and two malversation through falsification charges in connection with the reportedly anomalous purchase of different educational packages and materials from 2000 to 2001.