GOVERNMENT forces will now shift to clearing operation to ensure the safe return of the residents, who fled their homes, at the height of the firefight between the troops and the Moro National Liberation Front (MNLF) rebels in Zamboanga City.
Local Government Secretary Manuel "Mar" Roxas II made the announcement on Saturday after National Defense Secretary Voltaire Gazmin said that the standoff, which entered the 20th day Saturday, is over.
Roxas, Gazmin, and Armed Forces Chief-of-Staff General Emmanuel Bautista visited Saturday morning Martha Drive in the village of Sta. Catalina, one of the sites of fierce gun battle between the troops and MNLF rebels who infiltrated this city.
The standoff started last September 9 when hundreds of MNLF rebels infiltrated this city through the shores of Rio Hondo village and nearby villages.
City Mayor Ma. Isabelle Climaco-Salazar, who chairs the Crisis Management Committee (CMC), said the imposition of curfew from 8 p.m. to 5 a.m. continues despite the end of the standoff.