Saturday, September 28, 2013

Zambo crisis over; Malik flees

From the Manila Standard Today (Sep 29): Zambo crisis over; Malik flees

The military said on Saturday that the standoff between the military and Moro National Liberation Front fighters under Nur Misuari in Zamboanga City is now over, but admitted that Commander Habier Malik may have made good his escape.
Defense Secretary Voltaire Gazmin made the announcement 20 days after the conflict started. He added that there were no more firefights on Saturday night.

“Certainly, the defense secretary made the announcement and we’ve always maintained that we’re dealing with the situation that it will be the officials on the ground who will be making the announcement based on their assessment,” Deputy Presidential Spokesperson Abigail Valte said in a radio interview, confirming Gazmin’s declaration.

Valte said the government has been successful in ensuring the safety of the civilians since the standoff began last Sept 9 when loyal followers of Nur Misuari infiltrated the city supposedly for a peace rally.

“Our task from day one is to ensure the safety of the hostages that were taken… as well as to get civilians out of harm’s way and that has already been accomplished,” she said.

The military estimates that at least a hundred had been killed from the gunbattle–126 from MNLF, 23 from the military and police and 12 civilians– between the government troops and MNLF.

The Aquino administration has poured in P3.9 billion for the city’s massive rehabilitation program as thousands of families lost their houses and jobs due to the three-week standoff. Billions worth of losses to trade and commerce were also recorded.

The military, however, admitted, that Malik, Misuari’s ground commander in Zamboanga City, remains unaccounted for.

“Sec. Gazmin said that MNLF Commander Habier Malik is still uncaptured, but they are still verifying if one of the bodies they saw in Sta. Catalina is Malik’s,” government news channel PTV-4 said in its Twitter account.

Over the past 20 days, since the clashes started on September 9, 194 hostages were either rescued or had escaped from their captors.

The armed conflict also displaced nearly 110,000 individuals and some 10,000 structures, homes and buildings were burned.

Valte said the Philippine government has allocated P3.89-billion to help residents of Zamboanga City rebuild their homes that were destroyed by nearly three weeks of fighting.

“We are certain there are funds allotted for shelter assistance for the families whose homes had been totally destroyed or burned down,” she said.

Vice President and Housing and Urban Development Coordinating Council chairman Jejomar Binay earlier appealed to private home developers to rebuild the houses of the families whose homes were destroyed because of the conflict.

Binay said that the government housing sector is looking into the possibility of channeling the compliance projects of private developers to Zamboanga, where the houses are needed more.

Under the Urban Development Housing Act, private developers are required to develop an area for a socialized housing project equivalent to at least 20 percent of the total subdivision area, or with a cost equivalent to at least 20 percent of the total subdivision project cost of the main subdivision project.

Binay also ordered key shelter agencies to provide assistance assistance packages for Zamboanga residents displaced by the armed conflict.

The Home Development Mutual (Pag-IBIG) Fund, meanwhile, started processing calamity loan applications in its Zamboanga office since September 18.

Meanwhile, netizens have rekindled the issue on the proposed national ID (identification card) system in relation to the bloody attack of the Misuari-led faction of MNLF in Zamboanga City.

The issue re-emerged following a directive by City Mayor Maria Isabelle Climaco-Salazar, who had urged residents to always bring with them their IDs after she extended the 9-hour curfew in the city.

“The curfew from 8PM-5AM will remain as this is our way of also helping our troops in efficiently carrying out their operations and heightened security in all our roads, entry and exit points. We also request all of our people to bring with them necessary identification cards for counter-checking and validation of all our residents, especially while passing through checkpoints. These same requirements are needed in our seaports and airports,” Salazar said in a statement.

At the same time, the mayor suspended the issuance of residence tax certificate.

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