Press Release
September 10, 2020

De Lima urges security sector to disclose complete details of deal between Misuari, Susukan

Opposition Senator Leila M. de Lima has urged the Congress to investigate the circumstances surrounding the recent arrest of Abu Sayyaf Group (ASG) leader Abduljihan Idang Susukan in the custody of Moro National Liberation Front (MNLF) chairman Nur Misuari to ascertain the nature of their dealings and to determine its implications on the country's national security.

In filing Senate Resolution (SR) No. 513, De Lima underscored the need to establish the legitimacy of the activities of Misuari, special envoy to the Organization of Islamic Cooperation (OIC), and whether his continuous operations in Mindanao are sanctioned by the highest authorities and serve the interests of the country.

"For the sake of our national security, there is a need for our security sector - the AFP, the PNP, and the intelligence services - to disclose the complete details of the deal between Misuari and Susukan and determine whether the same was sanctioned by the highest authorities and on what basis," she said.

"There is a need to determine whether the trust being reposed by Pres. Duterte on [Misuari] is being abused by the latter as evidenced in his highly questionable caper with a known terrorist, which can already be considered as aiding and abetting a terrorist and therefore should be prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law," she added.

Based on media reports, the Philippine National Police reportedly took custody of Susukan at the residence of Misuari in Davao City last Aug. 13, claiming that the police initiated a negotiation after learning that Susukan was brought to Davao City to receive medical attention.

While the police served 23 warrants of arrest for murder, five for kidnapping and serious illegal detention, and six for frustrated murder against Susukan, PNP chief Gen. Archie Gamboa said they were leaving it to the court to decide whether Susukan was arrested or if he surrendered.

Meanwhile, Defense Secretary Delfin Lorenzana reportedly said that Misuari could be charged for violation of the Anti-Terrorism Act if it is established that he coddled Susukan considering reports that Susukan and Misuari were sighted in Davao City shortly before the bandit leader was arrested.

"The incident is reported to have bared serious differences of opinion on our country's security policies. The bone of contention, military sources said, was the presidential amnesty that allegedly underpinned a surrender deal brokered by Misuari," De Lima noted.

According to military sources, aside from being a top Abu Sayyaf leader, Susukan is the son of one of the deceased rebel Agga Susukan, one of Misuari's most trusted aides during the early days of the Moro rebellion, and Misuari promised Susukan his late father's position if he would surrender.

De Lima, a former justice secretary, maintained that with or without the Anti-Terror Law, the government must stay ahead of terrorism by preventing the rehabilitation of known terrorists by government authorities.

"It sends the wrong signal to our countrymen and to the world if our government is seen to coddle known terrorists while legitimate dissent is being stifled publicly through harassments and extrajudicial killings," she said.

In her Resolution, the lady Senator from Bicol further stressed that it is morally wrong for the government to offer any form of political deal to terrorists, including amnesty, while the families of their victims still suffer waiting for justice.

"There is a need for our government to declare a clear policy on the Abu Sayyaf, Misuari, and his MNLF splinter faction still holding out in Sulu after the 2013 Zamboanga Siege which terrorized and almost destroyed the city," she said.

It was during De Lima's stint as justice secretary when rebellion charges were filed against Misuari in the aftermath of the Zamboanga Siege, and warrant of arrest issued against Misuari. Its implementation, however, was suspended under the Duterte administration.

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