Leila de Lima slams government’s coddling of Misuari, calls the MNLF chief criminal

Published March 22, 2019, 8:35 PM

by Ellalyn De Vera & Richa Noriega

By Hannah Torregoza

Detained Senator Leila de Lima on Friday slammed the Duterte administration for taking Moro National Liberation Front (MNLF) founding chair Nur Misuari’s threat to go to war lightly saying the government should not be giving terrorists a platform.

Senator Leila de Lima

“The worst thing a free government can do is to give terrorists a platform. This is what Duterte is doing now to Nur Misuari. Misuari is nothing more than a criminal under the protection and patronage of Duterte,” De Lima said in her latest statement from the Philippine National Police (PNP).

President Rodrigo Duterte earlier disclosed Misuari threatened to go to war if the government fails to pursue federalism. The meeting happened in Malacañang on Tuesday, their second meeting since the ratification of the Bangsamoro Organic Law (BOL).

In response, Duterte said he told Misuari to form a panel to facilitate the negotiations between the government and the separatist group.

This latest disclosure from the President did not sit well with the senators. De Lima, likewise, voiced her concern over Misuari’s threat.

“Have we forgotten how Misuari ordered the hostile takeover of Zamboanga City which claimed the lives of many Filipinos? Do they not deserve justice for the atrocities Misuari and his men committed?” de Lima said.

The senator was referring to the MNLF leader’s role in the 2013 Zamboanga siege. De Lima had expressed belief Misuari, whose arrest warrant was lifted upon Duterte’s orders, should have been prosecuted for the crimes committed during the incident.

“Misuari now roams around, scot-free, without even a hint of remorse or regret for the lives they destroyed in their failed attempt at rebellion. All because Duterte refuses to serve the arrest warrants that would force him to face the charges against him,” she pointed out.

“It appears that the zeal of law enforcement only applies against Duterte’s critics where the police and, in some cases, Robin Padilla cannot wait another minute to serve the warrant,” she said.

“The authorities could not wait even a day to serve warrants for petty libel cases against Sen. (Antonio) Trillanes IV and (Rappler CEO) Maria Ressa while they wait on Misuari, who committed heinous crimes in open rebellion, indefinitely,” de Lima added.

“It is because of Duterte’s protection that Misuari has the gall to ignore and disrespect the Sandiganbayan by not showing up for his arraignment for graft and malversation of over P115-million worth of educational materials supposedly purchased, which turned out to be non-existent,” the lawmaker pointed out.

De Lima said she bristles at the thought that Misuari has the audacity to walk to the Office of the President and threaten war “if we refuse to revise our Constitution in accordance with his will.”

“In a very revealing moment, Duterte allowed his Office to be disrespected by this criminal. Even worse, Duterte acted as Misuari’s spokesperson, delivering the latter’s threat against our Republic, under the seal of his Office and before the media, for all to hear,” she said.

She said a true President would have Misuari arrested, there and then, for the proposal to commit rebellion.

“But Duterte is not a true President, at least not in the honorable sense of the word. A true President would recognize that Misuari already had his chance to join the peace process and it is time for him to face his crimes,” de Lima stressed.

“Our Bangsamoro brethren are now trying to chart their path within our constitutional bounds after the successful ratification of the new law, the Bangsamoro Organic Law. Yet Misuari continues to refuse a lawful and peaceful life. Still, he threatens our country. Still, the President humors him,” she lamented.

“Let me remind Duterte that he is not just president to Misuari. He is president to our Republic, and to our people, even to victims of Misuari’s crimes,” de Lima reiterated.