Misuari et al. charged with rebellion, crimes against humanity

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ZAMBOANGA CITY -- The police announced Thursday they have filed charges of rebellion and crimes against humanity versus Moro National Liberation Front founder Nur Misuari and 82 of his followers in connection with the three-week-long siege of Zamboanga City in which more than 200 persons were killed and tens of thousands forced out of their homes.


Senior Superintendent Edgar Danao, chief of the Western Mindanao office of the Criminal Investigation and Detection Group, said the charges were filed at the regional prosecutor’s office on Wednesday.

“Misuari is among the 83 persons charged,” he said.

Danao said the police were “able to establish the participation of Misuari in the attack.”

“We have gathered affidavits linking Misuari to the said attack, and it’s common knowledge, with all his declarations before the said attack,” he said.

Chief Inspector Ariel Huesca, the spokesperson of the regional police command, said Misuari was actually among the “fifth batch” of suspects facing charges in connection with the infiltration of Zambonga City’s coastal districts on or even before September 9.

He said that with the fifth batch charged, the authorities have now brought rebellion and other cases against a total of 224 MNLF members and leaders in connection with the violence.

Other prominent MNLF figures charged with Misuari included Ismael Dasta, Habier Malik, Usong Ugong, Salip Idjal and Kumander Haider, Huesca added.

Meanwhile, the military and the police on Thursday turned  over 11 vital installations to the control of the city government following days of clearing operations.

Chief Superintendent Carmelo Valmoria, commander of the police’s Special Action Force, said this meant that some places in the battered city were now “safe for occupancy.” But Valmoria, head of Task Force Suyod, said many areas still needed to be cleared.

“We are speaking here of hectares… like 30 hectares for this sector alone,” he said, referring to section of the Santa Barbara district where most government agencies have offices.

“We are grateful and appreciative of the clearing operations and we are happy we are now able to move forward and be able to function with the opening of other government facilities,” the city’s administrator, Antonio Orendain, said.

Misuari is believed to be hiding in the southern Philippines. He is the leader of a faction of the Moro National Liberation Front, which signed a 1996 peace agreement then accused the Philippine government of failing to honor it.

The rebel group, which Misuari founded in the early 1970s to fight for minority Muslim self-rule in the predominantly Roman Catholic nation, has been overshadowed by a bigger rival group in negotiations with the government to expand an autonomous Muslim region.

Misuari’s armed followers led a similar attack in 2001, during which they also seized civilians hostage. He was then charged with rebellion, escaped to neighboring Malaysia but was arrested and extradited to the Philippines. He later posted bail and was acquitted for lack of evidence. Inquirer.net With a report from Associated Press