Bail for Misuari but not necessarily for Trillanes’
By Leila Salaverria
Philippine Daily Inquirer
First Posted 05:04:00 04/29/2008
MANILA, Philippines — Just because Moro leader Nur Misuari was granted bail did not mean Senator Antonio Trillanes IV should also be given temporary liberty, Justice Secretary Raul Gonzalez said.
Responding to a Senate resolution calling for the granting of bail to Trillanes, Gonzalez on Monday said the rebel former naval officer continued to be a flight risk, as shown by his most recent escapade-the November 29, 2007, Peninsula Manila siege.
In that episode, soldiers being tried for participation in the Oakwood hotel mutiny in 2003 walked out of the Makati court hearing and seized the posh Peninsula Manila hotel to call for President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo to step down. Trillanes and the other mutinous officers later surrendered.
“He is a flight risk. The latest caper at the Manila Pen showed he is a flight risk. Supposing he succeeded there?” Gonzalez told reporters, adding that Trillanes was twice denied bail.
He also pointed out that Trillanes’ situation was different from Misuari’s. Misuari is facing a rebellion charge, while Trillanes is charged with committing coup d’etat. The Moro leader’s co-accused were granted bail earlier.
Misuari was allowed to post bail by a Makati court on Friday after six years of detention.
Gonzalez said that while both rebellion and coup d’etat were non-bailable offenses, Misuari had no record of trying to escape.
He said he could not fault the Senate for supporting Trillanes’ bid for bail because the latter was one of their own. Trillanes won a Senate seat while in detention.
The justice secretary said the elective position did not grant Trillanes any special privileges.
He cited the case of convicted child rapist Romeo Jalosjos, who was denied the opportunity to attend sessions at the House of Representatives as Zamboanga del Norte congressman while he was detained at the New Bilibid Prison.
But Gonzalez said the matter of Trillanes being granted bail was for the Makati court to decide. He said the administration will respect the court’s ruling.
Meanwhile, Gonzalez disclosed that Misuari, founder of the separatist Moro National Liberation Front, had received strong support from Libya and other Islamic countries.
He said Libyan officials had offered their recognizance to Misuari, but the government could not accept the offer because they were foreigners.
A “release by recognizance” means that the courts would turn over a political prisoner to a responsible citizen.
“I would suppose the Libyans seem to have strong sympathies for him,” he noted.
Libya is part of the International Monitoring Team keeping track of the government’s peace talks with the Moro Islamic Liberation Front, another separatist group.
Gonzalez also noted that the government had been asking Libya to increase its participation in the monitoring team.
Up to the court
Misuari’s release was reportedly in accordance with the instructions of the Cabinet security cluster.
Presidential Adviser on the Peace Process Jesus Dureza welcomed the decision, saying, “We hope that with his temporary liberty Chair Nur Misuari will continue to be an important player in the Mindanao peace process.
Trillanes’ situation was different from that of Misuari’s, said Deputy Presidential Spokesperson Anthony Golez in a phone interview. But he repeated Gonzalez’s view that it was up to the courts to decide. With a report from Michael Lim Ubac