MANILA — Malacañang on Tuesday said Moro National Liberation Front (MNLF) founder Nur Misuari should face the charges filed against him before the Sandiganbayan in connection with the so-called “textbook scam” while he was still governor of the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (ARMM).
The Sandiganbayan has ordered the arrest of Misuari after the anti-graft court found probable cause to hold the former governor and his co-accused on trial over the alleged anomalous purchase of PHP115.2 million in educational materials in 2000 and 2001.
“The onus to defend himself, at this point, will have to be with Mr. Misuari,” Presidential Spokesperson Ernesto Abella said in a Palace briefing.
President Rodrigo Duterte had earlier ordered the police not to implement the standing warrant of arrest against Misuari after he expressed his willingness to meet with the MNLF leader to restart stalled peace talks.
Misuari is facing rebellion charges over the deadly 2013 Zamboanga siege that left 200 dead.
The court has given him a temporary pass so he could participate in the peace talks.
Misuari emerged after three years in hiding when he met with Duterte in Malacañang in November 2016.
Since then, Duterte and Misuari have met several times to discuss peace talks with the MILF.
Abella said Malacañang could not say if Misuari’s latest arrest warrant would have an effect on the ongoing peace talks but nonetheless advised the former ARMM governor to answer the graft charges.
“I cannot categorically say it will not have any effect (on the peace talks), but at this stage, it will be best if he addresses directly the matter himself,” Abella said.