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NBI plan to question Misuari seen as ‘clear provocation’

Jaime Laude - The Philippine Star

MANILA, Philippines - The plan of the National Bureau of Investigation (NBI) to question Moro National Liberation Front (MNLF) leader Nur Misuari on his alleged links to the Sabah crisis is tantamount to a provocative act by the government, a senior MNLF official said yesterday.

MNLF political bureau chief Haji Gapul Hajirul explained this was because the government has a standing peace pact and ceasefire agreement with the Muslim rebel group.

He said that if the NBI really intends to subpoena Misuari, it must course its invitation through the joint government and MNLF peace panels and the Organization of Islamic Cooperation (OIC), in accordance with the established ceasefire ground rules.

“We don’t have it yet,” Hajirul said, referring to an NBI subpoena for Misuari, a former governor of the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (ARMM), to shed light on his alleged part in the order of the Sultan of Sulu Jamalul Kiram III to send armed supporters to Sabah.

Kiram’s followers have been in Sabah since Feb. 12 to revive the sultanate’s claim to the disputed territory that is now occupied by Malaysia.

Hajirul said the government and the MNLF have a ceasefire agreement that requires both parties to course their complaints or investigation through the joint peace panels for proper action. Furthermore, the OIC, being party to the agreement, should also be informed.

The NBI has been tasked by the Department of Justice (DOJ) to conduct a probe on the supposed conspirators that influenced Kiram to order his army led by his brother Agbimuddin to go to Sabah and reclaim the territory.

Sultan Kiram’s adviser Pastor “Boy” Saycon has already appeared before the NBI and denied involvement in any conspiracy to start the Sabah crisis.

Malacañang had reportedly implicated Saycon, Misuari, and Norberto Gonzales, former national security adviser of ex-President and now Pampanga Rep. Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo, in the Sabah crisis.

“We have a ceasefire agreement and its rules. The NBI moves might violate the ceasefire agreement and that is a clear provocation,” Hajirul said.

MNLF spokesman and legal counsel Emmanuel Fontanilla described as unfortunate the government’s move to look for a scapegoat after mishandling the Sabah issue.

Fontanilla suggested that the government should instead address the prevailing humanitarian crisis involving Filipinos in Sabah, Sulu and Tawi-Tawi.

NBI clarifies subpoena

NBI Director Nonnatus Caesar Rojas clarified yesterday that the subpoenas issued in connection with the investigation on the alleged conspiracy behind the Sabah incursion were only invitations and not meant to hold liable and treat as criminals those summoned.

Speaking at the morning program Umagang Kay Ganda on ABS-CBN Channel 2, Rojas also explained that it is the prerogative of those who were summoned whether they would appear or not.

“The subpoena of the NBI is an invitation. Whether we send a letter or subpoena… It doesn’t mean that they have a case or they are being charged already. The subpoena of the NBI is different from the subpoena of the court,” he told host Anthony Taberna.

Rojas said they are giving a chance to those who were summoned to explain their side and that the bureau would respect their decision whether to heed the invitation or not.

Asked whether sanctions would be imposed on those who would not go to the NBI, he said, “There is no sanction there.”

He said that the NBI is a professional government agency tasked to investigate and they are just doing their job.

Rojas’ statement came a day after Saycon visited NBI headquarters and denied any complicity in the alleged conspiracy.

Sultan Kiram, who was among those summoned, reportedly sent a letter requesting the NBI to just send its personnel to his house in Taguig.

The source said the bureau is just being careful in naming names “because it could heighten the already brittle situation.”  â€“ With Rey Galupo

ANTHONY TABERNA

AUTONOMOUS REGION

DEPARTMENT OF JUSTICE

HAJIRUL

MISUARI

NBI

ROJAS

SABAH

SAYCON

SULTAN KIRAM

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