Misuari appeals graft conviction

Elizabeth Marcelo - The Philippine Star

MANILA, Philippines — Moro National Liberation Front founder and chairman Nur Misuari has asked the Sandiganbayan to reconsider its May 24 decision convicting him of two counts of graft, saying the court committed “grievous mistake, which caused him “injustice, enormous pain, mental torture and social humiliation.”

“To many people, Misuari among them, honor is more valuable than life itself,” Misuari, through his legal counsel, said in a 29-page motion for reconsideration filed before the anti-graft court’s third division on June 5. ”The court must immediately correct its grievous mistake,”

“His friends and countless Muslim brethren worldwide are aghast at the manifest injustice that has befallen an innocent man,” it added.

In a decision promulgated on May 24, the court found Misuari guilty of two counts of Section 3 (e) of Republic Act 3019 or the Anti-Graft and Corrupt Practices Act, which prohibits public officials from giving unwarranted benefit, advantage or preference to a private party, or from causing any party, including the government, undue injury.

Misuari was sentenced to six to eight years in prison for each count.

The court also ordered his perpetual disqualification from holding public office.

Convicted of the same offense were former Department of Education-Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (ARMM) director Leovigilda Cinches, chief accountant Pangalian Maniri, accountant Alladin Usi and supply officer Sittie Aisa Usman.

Commission on Audit-ARMM resident auditor Nader Macagaan and private supplier Cristeta Ramirez of CPR Publishing were convicted of one count each of graft.

Filed by the Office of the Ombudsman in 2017, the cases stemmed from the regional government’s payment of P31 million to MBJ Learning Tools on Dec. 21, 2000 and P46.261 million to CPR Publishing on July 24, 2001 when Misuari was  governor.

The payments were for the supposed supply of information technology (IT) packages to be distributed to public elementary and high schools in the region.

The ombudsman said none of the supposedly purchased IT materials was delivered to public elementary and high schools. 

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