Sunday, September 15, 2013

Military open to rebels’ surrender to end Zambo standoff

From the Philippine News Agency (Sep 16): Military open to rebels’ surrender to end Zambo standoff

The military is ready to accept the unconditional surrender of the “Misuari-faction” of Moro National Liberation Front (MNLF) rebels to finally end the stand-off in this city.

“If they surrender, they can simply muzzle down their firearms, wave a white flag, send an emissary and walk out,” Armed Forces information officer Lt. Col. Ramon Zagala said.

“We will accept their surrender unconditionally,” Zagala added, citing they have to go through the process “and they will be answerable to the law.”

Zagala said the rebels must first release all the remaining hostages and surrender.

It remains uncertain how many of the more than 100 innocent civilians seized by the MNLF rebels and made as human shields remain hostage.

Some of them, including two preachers, were either released or have escaped at the height of the sporadic gunfight.

The standoff started last Monday when hundreds of Misuari-faction of MNLF rebels led by Habier Malik infiltrated this city.

“If Commander Malik wants to surrender his whole group and wants to end this violence he can do so,” Zagala said.

http://www.pna.gov.ph/index.php?idn=2&sid=&nid=2&rid=566158

DAY 8 | 1,000 structures burn as MNLF, troops trade shots in Zamboanga City

From InterAksyon (Sep 16): DAY 8 | 1,000 structures burn as MNLF, troops trade shots in Zamboanga City

On the eighth day of the crisis, armed men identified with the Nur Misuari faction of the Moro National Liberation Front (MNLF) on Monday burned more structures as government forces pressed on their positions in at least two barangays in Zamboanga City.

The Crisis Management Council led by Mayor Isabelle Climaco-Salazar said the city’s Bureau of Fire Protection (BFP) has estimated the number of razed structures at 1,000 or more.

On the other hand, the military appealed to media people covering inside the danger zones to refrain from reporting exact locations of government forces doing their assault against the rebels.

“We’re appealing to friends in the media to join us in safeguarding lives of our soldiers by refraining from posting their current locations,” Maj. Angelo Guzman, deputy of the Public Affairs Office of the Armed Forces of the Philippines, said.

He said radio reports and television footages disclosing the positions of advancing government positions were aiding the rebels, enabling the latter to reposition their forces, especially snipers and mortars, against soldiers, policemen, and even civilian medical personnel.

At around 5:30 a.m. on Monday, heavy fighting occurred in Sta. Catalina, followed by rebels burning more structures.

The same situation followed shortly in Barangay Riohondo as more houses and buildings where rebels were holding positions went up in smoke.

Hostages

Guzman said the rebels were holding up to 183 hostages in different locations.

Citing data from the military, he said the bulk of the hostages were in Sta. Barbara: 20 captives were in the custody of Commander Habier Malik, Misuari’s ground commander; 87 under Commander Ener Misuari; 20 under Commander Usong Uggong; 20 under Commander Salip Idjal; and undetermined number under Commander Asamin Hussin.

In Sta. Catalina, Guzman said 36 captives were in the hands of Commander Tadsna Ismael.

“There were only seven hostages released safe. Fourteen escaped from their captors and two were rescued,” Guzman said.

He said the 62 fatalities that included government and MNLF forces are expected to increase as fighting continues to rage.

Guzman said 51 rebels were already killed and 48 either were captured or have surrendered.

The Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD) said more than 70,000 displaced people were in evacuation centers.

https://www.blogger.com/blogger.g?blogID=4004111469161356591#editor/target=post;postID=1957510681338630964

Misuari in the country, but not in Zambo area – Gazmin

From InterAksyon (Sep 16): Misuari in the country, but not in Zambo area – Gazmin

Nur Misuari, founding chairman of the Moro National Liberation Front (MNLF), whose forces are in a standoff with the military in Zamboanga City for a week now, is in the country but not in the Zamboanga area, Defense Secretary Voltaire Gazmin said Monday.

In an interview over dzRH, Gazmin also said the renegade MNLF forces holed up in several barangays in Zamboanga City cannot simply withdraw from the place without consequences for their actions.

Hindi naman pwedeng ganun lang (It cannot be that way),” he said, noting the lives lost and the properties destroyed.

MNLF forces identified with Misuari tried to take control of Zamboanga City last Monday. They are now engaged in a sporadic firefight with government forces, displacing some 70,000 people and disrupting business and the everyday lives of Zamboanga residents. Classes and offices, as well as airline flights to and from the city, have been suspended since Monday last week.

Since then, Misuari has not come out in public to explain the presence of his followers in Zamboanga City.

http://www.interaksyon.com/article/70797/misuari-in-the-country-but-not-in-zambo-area--gazmin

As truce talks break down, MNLF rebels fight on despite 51 dead comrades

From GMA News (Sep 15): As truce talks break down, MNLF rebels fight on despite 51 dead comrades

The MNLF forces occupying several neighborhoods in Zamboanga City may have lost over half of their fighters, yet have refused to surrender.

51 of the gunmen have been killed while six members of the government's security forces have died in seven days of fighting, according to a spokesperson of the Armed Forces of the Philippines. Four civilians have been killed.

Estimates of the total number of MNLF rebels have ranged from 100 to 400 from the start of the crisis on September 9, when two main groups arrived from Sulu and Basilan to participate in what many of the MNLF members believed to be a "peace caravan."

Several thousand troops backed by tanks have been deployed against perhaps just dozens of rebels scattered throughout five barangays in the city.

59 soldiers and policemen have been wounded, Zagala said.

Despite fires that have razed hundreds of homes in several barangays, and over a hundred hostages held by the MNLF, AFP spokesman Lt. Col. Ramon Zagala insists that the armed forces have the momentum and are gaining ground.

Snipers and hostages have been used effectively to slow down the military's assaults, calibrated to kill rebels while sparing their hostages.

Only 19 rebels have been captured or have surrendered, much fewer than the fatalities, an indicator of the brutal nature of the street combat.

Lustre Street in Barangay Santa Catalina near the city center appears to be ground zero of the conflict, the area where the MNLF attackers' leader, Habier Malik, is said to be holding hostages, including family members of Catholic priest Father Michael Ufana who was released last Friday. It is believed that Ufana was freed to deliver demands of the hostage takers.

Several MNLF rebels were captured over the weekend, including an expert sniper, and recorded by GMA News teams at police stations.

According to GMA News reporter Chino Gaston, the sniper claimed that he was given P10,000 to participate in the action. Some captured rebels said they thought they were going to march peacefully to city hall to raise their flag of independence, naively thinking that security forces would just allow them to do so.

“We are looking into a speedy conclusion, but again we don't want to use speed as our basis,” Zagala said. “[The time frame] must be calibrated because there [are] hostages. Hindi tayo nagmamadali; our focus is really for the hostages not to be hurt, yun ang importante."

An attempt by Vice President Jejomar Binay to broker a ceasefire with MNLF founder Nur Misuari quickly fizzled out, after Binay announced a truce on Friday that none of the combatants seemed to take seriously.

On Saturday, Binay went to Zamboanga and spoke with Misuari again. Binay conveyed to President Aquino Misuari's demand for his men to walk away in exchange for the release of the hostages. Aquino rejected it.

AFP spokesman Zagala explained that the Army had no choice but a military response despite Binay's ceasefire negotiations because of the MNLF's heightened assault on Friday afternoon.

He said that the last estimate they have of MNLF-held hostages was 180.

http://www.gmanetwork.com/news/story/326590/news/nation/as-truce-talks-break-down-mnlf-rebels-fight-on-despite-51-dead-comrades

No more talks

From the Manila Bulletin (Sep 16): No more talks

Gov’t Resorts To ‘Contain-And-Constrict Strategy’ Vs MNLF Rebels

No more negotiations.

The government declared yesterday that it has given up on talks with the gunmen sowing trouble in Zamboanga and is now focused on a “contain-and-constrict strategy” to resolve the conflict before more lives are lost.

Deputy Presidential Spokeswoman Abigail Valte said government troops are employing “calibrated” operations to contain the gunmen in limited areas in Zamboanga while protecting the innocent civilians.

The military option is being employed after negotiations initiated by the local crisis management team in Zamboanga to peacefully end the standoff did not yield positive results, Valte said.

As the Zamboanga crisis entered its seventh day, the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) said yesterday government forces are gaining ground against rogue Moro National Liberation Front (MNLF) fighters who have occupied several villages in the city.

The death toll from the fighting is now at 60 – six from the military and police side, three civilians, and 51 from the MNLF.

Asked if the government will agree to grant a safe conduct pass to the fighters of MNLF founding chairman Nur Misuari in exchange for the release of the hostages, Valte said the government has made clear it will no longer negotiate with the gunmen.

“Nakikipag-usap po sila for negotiations ngunit wala hong lumalabas doon sa mga nagiging pag-uusap. So, tayo po, ang mga security forces po natin ay talagang handang protektahan ‘yung ating mga sibilyan doon [We tried negotiating with them but nothing happened. Our security forces are ready to protect the civilians there],” she said.

Last weekend, a ceasefire plan collapsed after President Benigno S. Aquino III reportedly rejected the demands laid down by Misuari to end the conflict. One of the demands was supposedly a safe passage for the rebels in exchange for the release of the hostages.

Presidential Communications Development Secretary Ramon Carandang, meantime, said the government’s calibrated strategy to contain and constrict the Misuari group’s fighters is “working.”

“The contain-and-constrict strategy takes a bit longer than an all-out assault on Misuari forces but it minimizes harm to civilians,” Carandang said.

Carandang explained that before Thursday, the government tried to end the siege in Zamboanga peacefully. “The decision to use force is not taken lightly,” he added.

President Aquino, meantime, is still in Zamboanga overseeing government efforts to quell the violence. Aquino flew to the conflict zone last Friday to boost the morale of soldiers as well as assure the affected residents the government will not abandon them.

Valte said she could not say the duration of the President’s stay in Zamboanga for security reasons.

She brushed aside speculations that the government will ask US troops to help end the violence in Zamboanga. She said the proposed rotational presence of American troops in the country should not be connected with efforts to resolve the conflict in Zamboanga.

While the government could not give a time frame on when they expect the crisis to be resolved, the military said they are working to end the crisis soon.

“We’re gaining ground, were pushing forward,” said Lt. Col. Ramon Zagala, the AFP public affairs office chief said.

The military earlier said the MNLF Misuari faction elements were holding at least 180 hostages. But as of press time, many of the hostages had either been freed or managed to escape.

Zagala said they have secured some of the areas that were earlier occupied by the rogue MNLF fighters, as government security forces conducted continuous operations.

“The operational tempo is dictated by us,” said Zagala, noting that from their previous estimate of 180-200 rogue MNLF gunmen who staged the siege, the number of the enemy is now down to “a little over 100.”

Zagala said the decrease in the number of the MNLF gunmen was because many of them had already been killed, at least 51, while some had either surrendered or been captured.

Government figures show that at least 19 rogue Moro insurgents have either surrendered or captured. Latest reports indicate that among those captured were two enemy snipers, one of whom had admitted being a member of the MNLF.

Reports from the field show that yesterday, at least five more hostages managed to flee from the MNLF elements who had used them as human shield.

Among the escaped hostages, who were shown on TV running toward a bus while being assisted by government troops, were two children.

The number evacuees rose to 68,316 as of Sunday morning. Most of the evacuees are temporarily taking shelter at the Baliwasan grandstand.

Soldiers Well Fed, Armed

Meanwhile, Malacañang assured that the government soldiers engaged in the military operation in Zamboanga City are properly armed and fed.

Valte denied reports the troops are running low on food and ammunition while locked in a fierce gun battle with MNLF rebels.

Valte said the soldiers are given adequate food and other supplies but don’t have the luxury of having a sit-down lunch in the middle of the standoff.

“Of course, we don’t expect our troops to have a sit-down lunch in the middle of the firefight. Please rest assured that the military is taking care of its own,” she added.

A number of netizens expressed frustration and pity after photos showing soldiers supposedly begging for food went viral on the Internet last week. The hungry soldiers were only reportedly given lugaw or porridge as food rations.

The Palace likewise assured that the government is providing assistance to families displaced by the conflict in Zamboanga.

Valte thanked the good Samaritans who offered hot meals and other relief items to the evacuees in the area. She particularly cited the restaurant owners who sent their staff and equipment to prepare food for the displaced families.

Rebels Burning Houses

As the military continued its operations in Zamboanga City, some MNLF rebels continued to burn houses as they withdrew to the mangroves area of Barangay Lustre and Sta. Barbara in this city.

Two big fires were observed yesterday morning one after the other at the back of the government hospital in Zamboanga City.

Meanwhile Isabela City Mayor Cherry Akbar reported that government troops in her city had sighted MNLF forces at the border of Isabela City and Sumisip, Basilan.

Another group was observed moving towards the town proper of Lantawan, Basilan, Akbar said.

Jakarta Offer

Indonesia, chair of the peace body for Mindanao of the Organization of Islamic Cooperation (OIC), is “always ready” to restore “conditions” in Mindanao. Indonesian Foreign Minister Marty M. Natalegawa made this assurance in an official statement.

 “The Government of Indonesia is always ready, at the request of the stakeholders, to contribute appropriately to the restoration of conditions in the southern part of the Philippines,” Natalegawa said.

In a related development, an MNLF spokesman has been calling on third parties, such as the United Nations and the OIC, to help settle the standoff. Lawyer Emmanuel Fontanilla, the MNLF spokesman, reiterated that a third party is needed to end the fighting.

http://www.mb.com.ph/no-more-talks/

No need for US troops in Zambo

From the Manila Times (Sep 15): No need for US troops in Zambo

MALACAÑANG on Sunday dismissed the possibility of tapping foreign troops to address the current situation in Zamboanga City, where authorities and Muslim rebels have been locked in a weeklong standoff.

”Wala ho. Malayo ho ‘yan [There’s none. It’s farfetched],” Palace deputy spokesman Abigail Valte said when asked about the prospects of elite US troops joining the fray in the besieged city through the agreement on the increased rotational presence of American troops in the country.

President Benigno Aquino 3rd earlier said that the government has “overwhelming” number of forces to deal with the ongoing standoff in Zamboanga City.

Valte said that there is nothing unusual with the Philippines seeking assistance of other countries. However, she noted that the ongoing siege is a different matter.

She stressed that peace talks is an entirely different issue from discussions about the continued presence of US servicemen in the country.

“Huwag ho nating ipilit ang pagdidikit doon sa dalawang magkahiwalay na usapin pong ‘yan [Let us not relate these issues that are separate]” Valte added.

The Philippine-US agreement aims to upgrade the Armed Forces of the Philippines so that it can be more capable of protecting the country’s territories and in responding to natural disasters.

Both Philippine and US negotiators have earlier agreed that American troops and equipment in Philippine military facilities will be temporary and the visitors must comply with the country’s laws.

Asked if US President Barack Obama’s visit will seal the said deal, Valte said, it will be discussed by both leaders.

The Palace official, meanwhile, said that US government through the US Agency for International Development has provided P26.4 million ($600,000) worth of assistance to thousands of refugees affected by the ongoing conflict.

http://www.manilatimes.net/no-need-for-us-troops-in-zambo/40216/

AFP going for the kill

From the Manila Times (Sep 15): AFP going for the kill

GOVERNMENT troops were advancing Sunday on the remaining Moro National Liberation Front (MNLF) fighters holed up in parts of Zamboanga City in a determined move to end the weeklong standoff.

“I cannot give a timeframe, but what I tell you as soon as possible we will finish, we’ll do it,” Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) Public Affairs Office chief Lt. Col. Ramon Zagala said on Sunday.

“We have continuous operations [and] we’re gaining ground. We’re pushing forward. There are lots of developments already,” Zagala said.

He said troops have taken some of the areas held by the rebels but refused to give the details, saying he did not want to compromise ongoing operations.

Zagala said the 180 to 200 MNLF fighters that swarmed the coastal villages of Zamboanga were down to a little over a hundred.

“Almost 51 enemies were killed. A lot have also been captured,” he said.

“Our objective here is to finish this the soonest possible time,” Zagala stressed.

As of last Saturday, six government troops had been killed and 46 were wounded. On the MNLF side, 19 were captured besides those killed.

Zagala said they would maintain their calibrated response to ensure the safety of the hostages the MNLF were using as human shields.

Zagala said government forces were advancing on rebel positions.

http://www.manilatimes.net/afp-going-for-the-kill/40228/

Nearly 100 rebels killed or captured in Zamboanga

From the Sun Star-Zamboanga (Sep 15): Nearly 100 rebels killed or captured in Zamboanga

Philippine forces have killed or captured nearly 100 of the Moro rebels who have been holding scores of hostages for a week in this city, as the government pushes ahead with an offensive to retake rebel-held coastal communities, officials said Sunday.

Army troops and police special forces have regained rebel-held grounds and are pressing an assault deeper into communities in the coastal outskirts of Zamboanga city, where more than 100 Moro National Liberation Front (MNLF) rebels are holding hostages, military spokesman Lieutenant Colonel Ramon Zagala said.

Several hostages have escaped or were freed, but it was unclear how many were still in rebel custody. Zamboanga City Mayor Isabelle Climaco Salazar said the rebels were still holding up to 40 hostages in one community alone.

Zagala said troops taking part in the offensive were calibrating their firepower to avoid harming civilians.

"We're gaining ground, we're pushing forward," he said.

At least 51 rebels have been killed and 42 others captured, most while trying to escape along the coast after discarding their camouflage uniforms for ordinary clothes, Local Government Secretary Mar Roxas said, adding that the gunmen would face criminal charges.

The bodies of two rebels, a man and a woman, were found Sunday by advancing troops.

Six policemen and soldiers, along with four villagers, have been killed in the standoff, which began Monday when troops foiled an attempt by the rebels to march and hoist their flag at Zamboanga's City hall.

The rebels, who arrived by boat from outlying islands, barged into five coastal villages and took more than 100 hostages as human shields.

Mortar casings recovered from MNLF rebels in Zamboanga City

A government trooper checks mortar casings recovered from the Moro National Liberation Front (MNLF) rebels on Sunday (Sept. 15, 2013) in Zamboanga City. (AP)

Army troops and police, backed by helicopters and navy gunboats, initially surrounded the rebels with their hostages while government officials tried to convince the insurgents to free their captives and surrender. But government forces decided to attack Friday after the rebels started setting on fire clusters of houses and fired mortar rounds that wounded several Red Cross aid workers, Zagala said.

While the government's offensive is gaining momentum, Roxas said it's difficult to tell when the troops will be able to end the standoff, which has displaced more than 67,000 residents.

The crisis has virtually paralyzed the port city of nearly a million people, after authorities closed its international airport, suspended sea ferry services and shut down schools and offices. Officials of a Zamboanga city hospital evacuated 472 patients as clashes erupted nearby last week. They pleaded to the military Sunday to help them return to the hospital to retrieve ventilators, anesthesia machines and other equipment for their patients.

The Moro insurgents, led by rebel leader Nur Misuari, signed a peace deal in 1996, but the guerrillas did not lay down their arms and later accused the government of reneging on a promise to develop long-neglected Muslim regions in Mindanao.

The rebels have become increasingly restive in recent months as they have been overshadowed by a rival rebel group that engaged President Benigno Aquino III's government in peace talks brokered by Malaysia. The talks have steadily progressed toward a new and potentially larger autonomy deal for minority Muslims in the south.
Misuari, whose group launched a similar attack in Zamboanga City in 2001, has not been seen in public since the standoff began.

http://www.sunstar.com.ph/breaking-news/2013/09/15/nearly-100-rebels-killed-or-captured-zamboanga-303348

Misuari: Rappler interview with Habier Malik

Posted to the Facebook page of Nur Misuari (Sep 15): Rappler interview with Habier Malik

He denied the MNLF fighters are burning the houses.

"Bakit sunugin namin nadito kami. Di man pwede yan. Yung first sunog mas mabuti may civilian, sinabi ko sa MNLF pagtulungan para hindi kumulat ang sunog. Always na pinapasabugan nila ng m...ortar. Pinapabayaan namin. Bahala sila. 'Yun ang kagustuhan nila yun," Malik said.

(Why should we burn [the houses] when we are here? That can't be. It was good there were civilians during the first fire. I told the MNLF troops that we should help them so the fire does not spread. But [the military] kept firing mortar shells. We let it go. That's what they want, so be it.)

"Palagay nila maiipit kami. Hindi naman. Meron din daanan. Kahit masunog na, mayroon pa maiiwan. Ang bahay na sunog, bahay pa rin," he added. (They think we will be trapped. No. There are still ways [to escape]. Even if we are eliminated, some will still be left. A burnt house is still a house.) — Rappler.com
 

Misuari: Regarding Ceasefire or Negotiations

Posted to the Facebook page of Nur Misuari (Sep 15):  Regarding Ceasefire or Negotiations

[Audio Message from Lupah Sug | 15/9/2013 6pm | Lupah Sug ]
REGARDING CEASEFIRE OR NEGOTIATIONS

Prof Nur Misuari: "Stop talking about that ceasefire we do not want ceasefire. Even if they give [in a server platter] to us that 15 provinces, 20 cities including Davao I do not want it. Stop mentioning about it [ceasefire/negotiations] just continue and keep going."

The MNLF-BMR-Juggernaut Forces from other areas of Zamboanga, hopefully, are expected to enter tonight, InshaAllah, to liberate the biggest symbol of colonialism in Mindanao. [Audio not clear]

Inform the peace loving people of Zamboanga, we are not to harm any of them, we are merely claiming all our rights!

Just fervently pray, we are all here inside the Masjid, very strong, by the Power of Allah."


https://www.facebook.com/Nur.P.Misuari

CPP: Denounce Aquino and the AFP for the armed siege against the MNLF in Zamboanga City

From the CPP Website (Sep 15): Denounce Aquino and the AFP for the armed siege against the MNLF in Zamboanga City

The Communist Party of the Philippines (CPP) denounces the Aquino regime and its armed forces for launching an armed siege against the forces of the Moro National Liberation Front (MNLF) over the past week in the heavily populated city of Zamboanga.

The siege by the AFP against the MNLF forces has resulted in a huge humanitarian crisis, with the lives of hundreds of thousands of people endangered, entire civilian populations forcibly evacuated, residents’ human rights abused and economic activity put on hold.

The GPH could easily have allowed the MNLF to engage in its original plan to hold a politico-military protest action last Monday in the outlying villages of Zamboanga. For the past several months, the MNLF has launched such protest actions, bearing arms and denouncing the Framework Agreement forged by the reactionary Manila government and the MILF. The Aquino regime has largely tolerated these protest actions launched by MNLF fighters, including those held in city centers such as Davao.

Instead of simply allowing as before the planned protest action in Zamboanga City last Monday, the Aquino regime launched a siege against the MNLF fighters, resulting in an armed standoff, in complete disregard of the welfare and safety of the civilian residents in the area. The Aquino regime has caused the forcible evacuation of civilian residents under threat of armed action. The US military contingent in Zamboanga—the Joint Special Operations Task Force-Philippines (JSOTF-P)—based inside Camp Navarro, has taken advantage of the military standoff to fly its surveillance drones in violation of Philippine sovereign airspace.

Claims by Aquino’s security officials that it cannot allow the MNLF to raise its banner are flimsy and unacceptable. That the Aquino regime has chosen to launch its siege against the MNLF while it is in a population center underscores its gross contempt of the people. The other day, Aquino went to Zamboanga City only to issue bellicose statements to “inspire” his fascist armed troops. He completely ignored the pleas of the people of Zamboanga City for a stop to the armed siege against the MNLF in order to pave the way for normalization. Aquino chose not to look into the eyes of the 24,000 people holed up in evacuation centers demanding water, food, medicine and proper shelter.

Many are convinced that the Aquino regime has chosen to launch its siege at this time to create a diversion in order to draw attention away from widespread protests against the Malacañang and congressional pork barrel.

The CPP demands that the GPH immediately stand down in order to effect a ceasefire and allow the safe withdrawal of the MNLF’s forces from the residential centers.

The CPP censures the MNLF for engaging in politico-military adventurism with the narrow aim of protecting Misuari’s fiefdom threatened by a new re-arrangement of resources and political power being forged between the Manila reactionary government and the MILF. Misuari and his clique of elite Moro leaders are making use of the cause of the Moro people’s struggle for national liberation to lend credibility to his armed adventures.

At the same time, the CPP recognizes the validity of the Moro people’s struggle for self-determination. The CPP calls on the Moro people to reject both Misuari’s military adventurism and the tendency of the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) to capitulate to the reactionary Manila government.

Despite repeated declarations of “peace in Mindanao,” the Aquino regime is bound to fail in forging a final peace deal that will resolve the outstanding demand of the Moro people for self-determination. Like its predecessors, the Aquino regime adamantly sticks to the chauvinist notion that the Moro people should submit themselves to the authority of the reactionary government and that any sort of “autonomous” Moro political authority will only be allowed if it first bows to the power of the oppressive Manila government.

The CPP urges the Moro people to persist in their cause by engaging in democratic mass struggles and revolutionary armed resistance. The Moro people have the support of the Filipino people in their cause of advancing their national and social liberation.

http://www.philippinerevolution.net/statements/20130915_denounce-aquino-and-the-afp-for-the-armed-siege-against-the-mnlf-in-zamboanga-city

Video: Fighting continues in Zambo

From Rappler (Sep 15): Video: Fighting continues in Zambo

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Fighting continues in Zambo          

  

Video: Zamboanga City, land of strife

From Rappler (Sep 15): Video: Zamboanga City, land of strife

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Soldiers in Zamboanga City stand-off      

    Now on its 7th day, the conflict in Zamboanga City continues
Violence hangs over the southern city like a black cloud. The pictures of battle-ready soldiers, shot by Rappler's Karlos Manlupig, paint a thousand words. Worry, determination and even resignation are plainly etched in their faces.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=pWKpsXFTBOQ&feature=c4-overview&list=UUdnZdQxYXnbN4uWJg96oGxw

Troops advance as ceasefire fails

From Rappler (Sep 15): Troops advance as ceasefire fails

TAKING AIM. A soldier on board a truck aims his weapon towards rebel positions as the stand-off between the two sides enters its sixth day in Zamboanga on September 14, 2013. AFP/Ted Aljibe

TAKING AIM. A soldier on board a truck aims his weapon towards rebel positions as the stand-off between the two sides enters its sixth day in Zamboanga on September 14, 2013. AFP/Ted Aljibe

Government troops Sunday, September 15, closed in on Muslim rebel positions and cut off escape routes to end a week-long standoff that has left more than 60 people dead in the southern city of Zamboanga, officials said.

Sporadic clashes continued as soldiers moved to clear Moro National Liberation Front (MNLF) gunmen from coastal neighborhoods after a ceasefire plan collapsed, with thousands more residents fleeing to safety.

As troops moved through Brgy Santa Barbara on Sunday, the extent of the damage from 7 days of fighting came into full view, with buildings reduced to smoldering heaps or pockmarked with bullet holes, an Agence France-Presse reporter said.

Soldiers recovered the bodies of two slain gunmen still clinging to their rifles, and several unexploded warheads for use in rocket propelled grenades had been left behind by the fleeing rebels.

In the distance, black smoke billowed from another area that had just gone up in flames.

And in a nearby district, a group of soldiers could be seen crouched on the street as sniper fire whizzed just above their heads, television footage showed.

"We are continuing to press forward with our calibrated military response," military spokesman Lieutenant Colonel Ramon Zagala told Agence France-Presse.

"Fighting is continuing as we speak. They continue to resist and conduct offensive actions against us."

Paralyzed city

Heavily armed MNLF forces entered the port city's coastal neighborhoods Monday, September 9, and took dozens of hostages in a bid to scupper peace talks between another militant group and the government aimed at ending a decades-long rebellion in the south.

But Zagala said the fighting was now concentrated in two coastal districts, while other areas were secure.

But the attack underscored the complexity of ending conflict in the southern third of the mostly Catholic Philippines, where there are several armed Muslim factions and which has seen a proliferation of unlicensed firearms.

Day and night operations by at least 3,000 elite government troops have now seen 51 MNLF rebels killed, as well as six soldiers, a policemen and four civilians.

WATCH: Zamboanga City, land of strife

Air and sea ports remained closed Sunday in a crisis that has paralyzed the city of one million, seen entire neigborhoods razed to the ground, and forced tens of thousands to flee.

The local chamber of commerce said economic losses in Zamboanga, home to a major sardine canning industry, could be as much as Php 50 billion ($1.1 billion) a day.

Police on Saturday, September 14, estimated that the gunmen were holding as few as seven civilian hostages, compared to more than 100 a day earlier, with many either escaping or being allowed to go free.

Social Welfare Secretary Corazon Soliman said the number of people who had fled to temporary shelters had risen to more than 69,000 by Sunday morning.

READ: Bakwet: The darker side of the Zamboanga crisis

"The number swelled yesterday because thousands more evacuated from areas the rebels were likely to use as escape routes," she told Agence France-Presse.

"We hope they will be able to go home in the coming week," she said, while stressing that it was too early to say if the fighting would be over by then.

Abandoned ceasefire

A ceasefire plan brokered by Vice President Jejomar Binay and MNLF leader Nur Misuari was abandoned Saturday, after the two sides failed to agree terms.

READ: Q and A: Binay in Zambo: What happened?

READ: PNoy to Zambo refugees: You are not alone

The MNLF waged a 25-year guerrilla war for independence before signing a peace treaty in 1996 that granted limited self-rule to the south's Muslim minority.

Misuari, who has accused the government of violating the terms of a 1996 treaty by negotiating a separate deal with a rival faction, had disappeared from public view shortly before the fighting began Monday.

The rival faction, the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF), is in the final stages of peace talks with Manila and is expected to take over an expanded autonomous Muslim region in the south by 2016.

President Benigno Aquino III said the peace talks with the MILF aimed to end decades of rebellion that had claimed 150,000 lives in the country's Muslim southern regions.

http://www.rappler.com/nation/38958-zamboanga-troops-advance-ceasefire-falters

Death toll over 50 in Zamboanga crisis

From Rappler (Sep 15): Death toll over 50 in Zamboanga crisis

More than 50 people have died in the ongoing clashes between the military and Moro National Liberation Front (MNLF) fighters in Zamboanga City since the standoff began September 9.

The Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) spokesperson Lt Col Ramon Zagala said at least 51 MNLF members and 6 soldiers and policemen have died since fighting began on September 9, Monday. At least 56 other people are wounded.

Zagala also said the military captured two MNLF members and recovered 3 hostages on Sunday, September 16.

WATCH: Zamboanga City, land of strife

Around 3,000 elite government troops are in Zamboanga City.

On Saturday, a reported ceasefire plan brokered by Vice President Jejomar Binay fell through. Binay has since defended his actions saying the President knew of his plans to speak to MNLF Chairman Nur Misuari.

Read: Q & A with VP Binay on what happened in Zambo

Social Welfare Secretary Corazon Soliman said on Sunday morning that around 69,000 people are affected by the clash and have moved to temporary shelters.

READ: Bakwet: The darker side of the Zamboanga crisis

According to the local chamber of commerce, economic losses in Zamboanga could be as much as Php 50 billion ($1.1 billion) a day.

President Benigno S. Aquino III chose to stay in Zamboanga City for a 3rd day, after arriving on September 13. On Saturday, September 14, the President visited evacuees at the Joaquin F. Enriquez Sports Complex. He also held a security briefing with top police and military officials and met with Vice President Jejomar Binay in the afternoon.

http://www.rappler.com/nation/38973-death-toll-over-50-zamboanga-crisis

Habier Malik: We're ready to die

From Rappler (Sep 15): Habier Malik: We're ready to die

Thumbnail    

Habier Malik phone interview      

[Rappler phone interview with Habier Malik, the commander of a faction of the Moro National Liberation Front (MNLF) leading the attacks that shut down Zamboanga City, on Sunday morning, September 15]
 
Habier Malik, the commander of a faction of the Moro National Liberation Front (MNLF) leading the attacks that shut down Zamboanga City and killed at least 51, is not dead. But he said he is ready to die.
 
Rappler spoke with Malik over the phone Sunday morning, September 15.

"Ewan ko kung paano 'yun. Hindi naman ako nakapagtext sabi ko namatay ako. Ang tao pag patay na hindi na yan makapagtext," he joked. (I don't know how that happened. I did not text them to say I'm dead. If someone is dead, he cannot anymore send a text message.)

But Malik said he's ready to die. "Pagpunta dito, we are ready to die for our cause," he said.

Malik acknowledged that the government troops are closing in on them. The area they control is shrinking, he admitted.

"Nakikita ko kahit mamamatay kami, halimbawa maubos kami, ang katibayan ng MNLF ay hindi mawawala," he said. (I can see that, even if we all die, the principles of the MNLF will not die with us.)

Malik is the top aide of MNLF founder Nur Misuari. They oppose the new peace deal the government is finalizing with its rival group, the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF). Malik argued that MNLF's 1996 agreement with the Philippines cannot be sidestepped by a new agreement with the MILF.

Read: Habier Malik leading Zambo attacks

They sailed to Zamboanga on Monday, September 9, and took over a hundred hostages to get government attention. They planned to hoist their flag at the City Hall and declare their independence. The standoff between MNLF and government troops is on its seventh day.

Read: At least 50 dead in Zamboang City clash

Close battle

On Friday, September 13, there were reports that Malik had died from a close battle between the rebels and the military.

Malik was referring to reports from the military that he had died.

On September 14, former AFP spokesperson Lt Col Harold Cabunoc tweeted information he recieved that Malik was dead.

LtCol Harold Cabunoc @HaroldCabunoc94
There are strong indications that Ustadz Habier Malik has died. A friend from Sulu said that he was killed in the assault.

Malik confirmed he was caught in a gun battle with government troops when they were moving around the area of Lustre.

"Medyo 'yun ang pinakamalala na bakbakan. Gabi-gabi nagpapasabog sila ng mortar pero hindi naka- tabla sa amin," Malik said. (It was the worst gun battle so far. Every night they unleash mortar fire but they don't hurt us.)

Malik did admit that sniper fire hurt them during that encounter that supposedly killed 4 MNLF troops.

Malik released on Friday, September 13, Catholic priest Fr Michael Ufana. Malik said he let the priest go because he can explain to those who do not understand what the MNLF is fighting for.

READ: PNP confirms priests release

Malik blanketly denied almost everything the military has claimed about the standoff in the coastal villages of Zamboanga City.

The military said there were originally 200 of them that entered the city. Malik claimed there were 400 of them.

The military said at least 51 of the rebels were killed. Malik claims only 10 have died.

He denied the MNLF fighters are burning the houses.

"Bakit sunugin namin nadito kami. Di man pwede yan. Yung first sunog mas mabuti may civilian, sinabi ko sa MNLF pagtulungan para hindi kumulat ang sunog. Always na pinapasabugan nila ng mortar. Pinapabayaan namin. Bahala sila. 'Yun ang kagustuhan nila yun," Malik said.
 
(Why should we burn [the houses] when we are here? That can't be. It was good there were civilians during the first fire. I told the MNLF troops that we should help them so the fire does not spread. But [the military] kept firing mortar shells. We let it go. That's what they want, so be it.)

"Palagay nila maiipit kami. Hindi naman. Meron din daanan. Kahit masunog na, mayroon pa maiiwan. Ang bahay na sunog, bahay pa rin," he added. (They think we will be trapped. No. There are still ways [to escape]. Even if we are eliminated, some will still be left. A burnt house is still a house.)

Watch: Zamboanga City, land of strife

Latest attack

The attack on Zamboanga City is now on its 7th day. It is the latest in a series of attacks carried out by MNLF or its factions.

Read: MNLF's 5 major attacks

The most notorious of which was on Sulu on Nov 19, 2001, when the group attacked at least 5 Army detachments. At least 113 people were killed in that Sulu attack. More than 100 of them were MNLF followers.

The standoff in Zamboanga City had resulted in a humanitarian crisis with thousands of people forced to leave their homes and find refuge in evacuation centers.

Read: Bakwet: The darker side of the Zamboanga crisis.

The DSWD says they are able to feed and care for all the internally-displaced persons but are appealing to aid groups for help to cook food for them. Still, many of the evacuees want the conflict to end soon so they can return to their homes, or at least what's left of it.

http://www.rappler.com/nation/38981-habier-malik-ready-to-die

Gazmin man appointed Samar Army commander

From InterAksyon (Sep 14): Gazmin man appointed Samar Army commander

A general who is reportedly close to Defense Secretary Voltaire Gazmin on Saturday took over command of the Army's 8th Infantry Division based in Samar.

Brig. Gen. Jet Velarmino, former chief of staff of the Philippine Army and member of the Philippine Military Academy (PMA) "Sandigan" Class 1982, took over the command following the retirement of Maj. Gen. Gerardo Layug.

"I envision that under my charge, the soldiers of 8ID will keep the genuine spirit of Bayanihan alive. I will definitely work by the defining framework of the AFP Internal Peace and Security Plan (IPSP) Bayanihan and the Army Transformation Roadmap (ATR)."

http://www.interaksyon.com/article/70719/gazmin-man-appointed-samar-army-commander

Philippine troops clearing remaining rebels - Mar Roxas

From InterAksyon (Sep 15): Philippine troops clearing remaining rebels - Mar Roxas



Army troops advance on MNLF positions. REUTERS FILE PHOTO

Philippine troops were clearing out the last remaining Muslim rebels after a six-day operation in the south that killed dozens of militants and allowed scores of hostages to flee, officials said Saturday.

Police estimated the Moro National Liberation Front (MNLF) gunmen were now holding as few as seven civilian hostages in the southern port city of Zamboanga, compared to more than 100 a day earlier, Interior Secretary Mar Roxas said.

His comments boosted hopes that the crisis, which had left entire neighborhoods razed to the ground by the gunmen and forced tens of thousands of residents to flee, would soon be resolved.

"By today, it's quite clear that not only is this incursion being contained," Roxas told reporters. "From contained it has evolved into constriction, which is to reduce the operating space of the MNLF. Now it is into clearing."

Relentless day and night operations by at least 3,000 elite government troops have killed 43 rebels while 19 others had been detained, said military spokesman Lieutenant-Colonel Ramon Zagala.

"Right now we are optimistic that our operations are effective and that we are delivering a a significant blow to our enemies," he told AFP.

"We hope that we can finish this calibrated response at the soonest possible time," he said, while refusing to give a timetable.

He cautioned that the remaining gunmen were still dangerous, and the presence of civilians in neighborhoods where the remnants were hiding out meant the military could only use light weaponry.

He said the military and police forces had suffered six dead while four civilians were also killed.

The optimistic assessment of the operation came hours after Vice President Jejomar Binay offered to broker a ceasefire between the government and MNLF leader Nur Misuari.

Binay, the country's number-two elected official, followed President Benigno Aquino to Zamboanga on Saturday to discuss with the Filipino leader a ceasefire plan that he said he had also raised with Misuari.

The truce was tentatively scheduled to take effect at midnight (1600 GMT) Saturday, a spokesman for the vice president told AFP.

There was no immediate report on what transpired during his meeting with Aquino.

Roxas confirmed the Aquino-Binay meeting had taken place, but said the president had not ordered the military to stop their operations against the MNLF.

The standoff began on Monday, when heavily armed MNLF forces entered Zamboanga's coastal districts and took hostages in a bid to scupper peace talks between another militant group and the government.

At one time the gunmen used nearly 200 civilians as human shields, officials said.
The rebels also forced groups of the hostages to stand between them and attacking military units.

The fighting forced 69,000 people to flee their homes, the civil defence office said.
Nearly 500 houses were torched by the rebels, who shot at fire trucks sent to attend to the blazes, city fire marshal Dominador Zabala told reporters.

The MNLF waged a 25-year guerrilla war for independence before signing a peace treaty in 1996 that granted limited self-rule to the south's Muslim minority.

Misuari, who has accused the government of violating the terms of a 1996 treaty by negotiating a separate deal with a rival faction, had disappeared from public view shortly before the fighting began Monday.

The rival faction, the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF), is in the final stages of peace talks with Manila and is expected to take over an expanded autonomous Muslim region in the south by 2016.

President Aquino said the peace talks with the MILF aimed to end decades of rebellion that had claimed 150,000 lives in the country's Muslim southern regions.

http://www.interaksyon.com/article/70732/philippine-troops-clearing-remaining-rebels---mar-roxas

DAY 7 | Troops advance as ceasefire falters in Zambo crisis

From InterAksyon (Sep 15): DAY 7 | Troops advance as ceasefire falters in Zambo crisis



Marines move into the area in Barangay Santa Barbara, 15 September 2013. ERWIN MASCARINAS/InterAksyon.com

Government troops on Sunday were closing in on Muslim rebel positions and cutting off escape routes to end a week-long standoff that has left more than 60 people dead in the southern city of Zamboanga, officials said.

Thousands more residents have fled, while sporadic clashes continued as soldiers moved to clear Moro National Liberation Front (MNLF) gunmen from coastal neighborhoods after a ceasefire plan collapsed.

"We are continuing to press forward with our calibrated military response," military spokesman Lieutenant Colonel Ramon Zagala told AFP.

"Fighting is continuing as we speak. They continue to resist and conduct offensive actions against us."

Heavily armed MNLF forces entered the port city's coastal neighborhoods Monday and took dozens of hostages in a bid to scupper peace talks between another militant group and the government aimed at ending a decades-long rebellion in the south.

But Zagala said the fighting was concentrated in two coastal districts, while other areas were now secure.

Day and night operations by at least 3,000 elite government troops have now seen 51 MNLF rebels killed, as well as six soldiers, a policemen and four civilians.

Air and sea ports remained closed Sunday in a crisis that has paralysed the city of one million, seen entire neigborhoods razed to the ground, and forced tens of thousands to flee.

Police on Saturday estimated that the gunmen were holding as few as seven civilian hostages, compared to more than 100 a day earlier, with many either escaping or being allowed to go free.

Social Welfare Secretary Corazon Soliman said the number of people who had fled to temporary shelters had risen to more than 69,000 by Sunday morning.

"The number swelled yesterday because thousands more evacuated from areas the rebels were likely to use as escape routes," she told AFP.

"We hope they will be able to go home in the coming week," she said, while stressing that it was too early to say if the fighting would be over by then.

A ceasefire plan brokered by Vice President Jejomar Binay and MNLF leader Nur Misuari was abandoned Saturday after the two sides failed to agree terms.

The MNLF waged a 25-year guerrilla war for independence before signing a peace treaty in 1996 that granted limited self-rule to the south's Muslim minority.

Misuari, who has accused the government of violating the terms of a 1996 treaty by negotiating a separate deal with a rival faction, had disappeared from public view shortly before the fighting began Monday.

The rival faction, the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF), is in the final stages of peace talks with Manila and is expected to take over an expanded autonomous Muslim region in the south by 2016.

President Benigno Aquino said the peace talks with the MILF aimed to end decades of rebellion that had claimed 150,000 lives in the country's Muslim southern regions.

http://www.interaksyon.com/article/70742/day-7--troops-advance-as-ceasefire-falters-in-zambo-crisis

NIGHTMARE GOES ON | More dead, more houses burned in Zambo

From InterAksyon (Sep 15): NIGHTMARE GOES ON | More dead, more houses burned in Zambo



Fire breaks out in Sta. Barbara, one of the areas where pitched battles continued at the weekend between State forces and the MNLF. ERWIN MASCARINAS, INTERAKSYON.COM

As members of the Moro National Liberation Front (MNLF) torched more houses and buildings while retreating from advancing security forces in Zamboanga City, Mayor Isabelle Climaco Salazar said the perpetrators of the crisis are fully accountable for the lives lost and the city's destruction, and hoped the "full force of the law" would fall on their heads.

She urged residents to keep praying "our nightmare would end."

At a briefing called by the local crisis committee Sunday afternoon, representatives of a Muslim association in Zamboanga also denied having called a jihad, and stressed that the Muslim residents are in complete harmony with the local government and with Christians.

Officials also appealed to parties spreading rumors about supply shortages, saying they should not fan people's fears, or lay down the pretext for hoarding or profiteering.

Commerce was reported to have normalized in several key areas of the bustling city by weekend, especially for traders of basic supplies.

Casualty count rising

As of Sunday afternoon, the military said the MNLF has already suffered 51 dead and 19 of them were either captured or surrendered. On the government side, the number of fatalities remained at 6 and 59 wounded.

Relatedly, Commission on Human Rights (CHR) Chairperson Loreta Ann Rosales praised government forces for giving paramount consideration to the safety of hostages in the conduct of “calibrated operations.”

Rosales said in her Twitter account: “We congratulate [our] brave policemen and soldiers in containing [the] MNLF rampage under International Humanitarian Laws (IHL)/Human Rights (HR) guidelines. You make us proud!”

Mayor Climaco-Salazar described the situation as “heartbreaking and upsetting” because of the destruction brought about by the “war for independence” being waged by Misuari and his loyalists. Pitched battles broke out anew over the weekend after a short-lived cease-fire brokered by Vice President Binay that took effect Saturday midnight was broken by fresh fighting.

The mayor called on Zamboanga residents to "keep praying" so that "our nightmare" would end.

The Bureau of Fire Protection (BFP) said hundreds of houses, buildings and structures were being torched by the rebels in Sta. Catalina and Sta. Barbara.

3 bodies found

On Sunday morning, authorities recovered two dead MNLF rebels – a man and a woman – and another dead MNLF male fighter was also recovered in Sta. Barbara after government forces flushed out the rebels in several minutes of firefight at the Sta. Barbara Elementary School.

Four MNLF members – two men and two women – were also captured in Sta. Catalina. “Our operations are continuous and we’re gaining ground. We’re pushing forward to some areas they held and hopefully we will retake them soon,” Lt. Col. Ramon Zagala, head of the military’s public affairs office, said.

Zagala added they were “looking [at] a speedy conclusion, but again we don’t want to use speed as our basis. It must be calibrated because there are hostages. Hindi tayo nagmamadali [We are not rushing]. Our focus is really for the hostages not to be hurt, ‘yun ang importante [that is important],” he added.

According to the Crisis Management Committee (CMC) led by Climaco-Salazar, four more hostages, including two children, were able to escape Sunday morning from their MNLF captors.

President Benigno Aquino III was still in the city to personally supervise the military operations against the MNLF.

Interior Secretary Manuel “Mar” Roxas II said the President is giving orders to  ground commanders.

Also with him are Defense Secretary Voltaire Gazmin, Armed Forces Chief of Staff Emmanuel Bautista, Philippine National Police (PNP) chief Gen. Alan Purisima, among others.

The CMC said close to 70,000 evacuees continue to cram evacuation centers, and DSWD Secretary Corazon Soliman said there are enough supplies for food, water and other basic things for the evacuees.

http://www.interaksyon.com/article/70756/nightmare-goes-on--more-dead-more-houses-burned-in-zambo

MNLF amazon killed as fighting enters 7th day in Philippine city

From the Mindanao Examiner blog site (Sep 15): MNLF amazon killed as fighting enters 7th day in Philippine city



Heavy, but sporadic fighting entered its 7th day in Zamboanga City in southern Philippines as troops, backed by armoured vehicles, continue to battle rebels holding dozens of civilian, officials said Sunday.

At least 10 hostages, including a wounded child, managed to escape from their captors in Santa Barbara village since late Saturday and raising the total number of freed captives to 34; and that 11 rebels had been captured and several more killed in the clashes.

Some of those arrested were captured in drainage canal while they attempted to escape. Civilians spotted them and informed the soldiers about it. Two of those arrested were also women members of the Moro National Liberation Front under Nur Misuari.

Troops on Saturday pulled several bodies of slain rebels, including a woman, in Santa Barbara village. One soldier said they pulled one body from the street because animals were already feeding on it. “Dogs are around the cadaver and we managed to get the body despite dangers posed by MNLF snipers,” he told the regional newspaper Mindanao Examiner.

The exact number of slain rebels was not immediately available, but the military said at least 43 rebels and six soldiers and policemen were killed in the clashes since September 9 when rebels – disgruntled with the peace deal they signed with the government 17 years ago - launched simultaneous attacks and took as many as 180 people and use them as shield.

Fighting was sporadic, but fierce and rebels torched several houses again on Saturday and opened fire on troops who tried to take their positions in the villages of Santa Catalina and Santa Barbara. Soldiers have surrounded the villages.

The military said more than 100 rebels, who were taking orders from Misuari’s lieutenant Ustadz Haber Malik, are still scattered in at least 5 areas.

Authorities said the presence of the captives have made extremely difficult for security forces to dislodge the rebels, but Human Rights Commissioner Manuel Mamauag said a rebel commander has phoned him to say that two hostages were wounded in the fighting.

The rebels have threatened to kill the hostages should the military assault continues. The fighting has forced over 60,000 people to flee and is now in temporary shelters, but many also put up makeshift tents near the shorelines.

One teenage hostage said he was freed by his captors who took pity on him. “Sa wakas nakalaya na ako. Isa po ako sa hostages kaya ako nakalabas hindi dahil sa tumakas ako dahil naawa ang mga MNLF sa pinsan ko mabait sila wala silang ginagawang masama saamin pinapakain kami 3 times a day nakikipag joke pa sila sa amin pero ang bad news is na iwan ang dalawan uncle at lolo ko at namatay ang pinsan ko na. Kawawa talaga siya hindi na sila naawa kahit bata binaril sila ng tanke ng militar sa totoo lang wala pang ginawang kalokohan ang mga MNLF sa amin,” he said.

Mayor Maria Isabelle Salazar said if she only had her way, she would finish the crisis the soonest time.

“As I mentioned yesterday, if only I had the way, I want this finished the soonest possible time. Our troops are still out there, keeping the fight for all of us and we continue to support them in all their efforts to finally put this atrocity to end. There is no let-up in our work for peace. Zamboanga City is our home and we shall do everything to safeguard our home and the families we have here,” she said.

Misuari had repeatedly announced that the peace deal he signed with the Manila is long dead and buried and that he named himself as President of the Bangsamoro Republik.

Salazar said she would not allow the rebels to escape. “We do not want them to get out scot-free; we do not want them to leave with a free pass.”

She also reiterated that the crisis is not an issue of religion, but “an issue of those misguided people whose ideologies had been founded with the use of arms to inflict terror to people.”

“Let me reiterate to all of our people. This crisis is not an issue of religion. This had been made clear since the first day when this crisis begun. Let us not speculate and push further this divide as this will not help in solving the current situation of this city. This is an issue of those misguided people whose ideologies had been founded with the use of arms, ultimately to inflict terror to our people,” she said.

A US plane was also spotted flying over the conflict zone, but it was not immediately known whether the aircraft was getting information about rebel positions or mapping the area held by the MNLF.

The Interreligious Solidarity for Peace in Zamboanga has urged Manila to negotiate with the MNLF and issue safe passage to the rebels in exchange for the hostages.

It proposed the following: To immediately effect a humanitarian ceasefire to allow the release of civilian hostages, especially the children, the elderly, the persons with disabilities, the curing of the sick, and the burying of the dead; For the MNLF rebels to leave all the hostages in one safe place for them to be immediately fetched and their needs attended to, and for Malik’s group to be allowed safe conduct pass and for such pass to be guaranteed by President Aquino and witnessed by Indonesia.

“We support the pronouncement of the Philippine Government for the resumption of tripartite talks with the MNLF and for the latter to continue to carry its grievances to the peace table. For the sake of the people of Zamboanga and Mindanao, especially the Bangsamoro, the MNLF must seriously consider the public assurance of national government to carry on the talks with Indonesia as facilitator. At the end of the day, peace must prevail. But there can be no peace and harmony in any society without rule of law,” it said.

Spanish priest Angel Calvo is the lead convener of the Interreligious Solidarity for Peace with Professor Ali Yacub and Nulhamdo Cegales as co-conveners for the Muslim and indigenous peoples.

















Fighting continues September 15, 2013 in Zamboanga City in southern Philippines where troops are battling Moro National Liberation Front rebels under Nur Misuari – disgruntled by the 1996 peace deal they signed with the government – who occupied several villages and took as many as 180 people hostage. The violence forced over 60,000 people to flee their homes. (Mindanao Examiner Photo)

http://mindanaoexaminer.blogspot.com/2013/09/mnlf-amazon-killed-as-fighting-enters.html

2 hostages die, 32 freed in Philippine city of Zamboanga

From the Mindanao Examiner blog site (Sep 15): 2 hostages die, 32 freed in Philippine city of Zamboanga





Soldiers take their position September 15, 2013 in Zamboanga City in southern Philippines as they battle Moro National Liberation Front rebels for seven straight days now. (Mindanao Examiner Photo)

Philippine authorities said a total of 34 hostages had either escaped or freed by rebels in the besieged city of Zamboanga in Mindanao where sporadic fighting continues.

But officials said two of the former captives had died and the others were reunited with their family and some still recuperating in hospitals from injuries sustained during their ordeal.

The following are the names of the 34 former hostages – Mercidita Hasinun, NorisimaHasinun, Yudith Hasinun, Aira Hasinun, Binsai Hasinun, Fr. Michael Ufana, Ereneo Gerolaga, Mary Jean Gerolaga, Ronelo Nagar, Rodello Tolorio, Warren Simyunn, Josephine Simyunn, Oswaldo Mariano, Monico Dales, Reymundo Cepada (+), Frederick Fernandez.

And Junior Morte, Noah Kent Mojica, Michelle Candido, Geom Anoo (+), Alrean Lumiton, Aira Mae Lumiton, Narciso Lumiton, Meldy Tabios, Lyka Tabios, Nica Tabios, Benjamin Leonardo, Leonardo Cledona, Ednemark Confessor, Klevan Presno, Daniel Sanson, Bernardo Martus, Jocelyn Sulayao, and Alpiya Solis.

Security forces are still fighting over 100 Moro National Liberation Front rebels who are still holding dozens of civilians seized in at least 5 villages. The rebels, under Nur Misuari – who accused the Aquino government of reneging on a peace deal the MNLF signed with Manila 17 years ago – stormed the villages on September 9.

Mayor Maria Isabelle Salazar said all schools and private offices will remain closed until the situation returns to normal. She said curfew is still being implemented in the whole of Zamboanga from 8 p.m. until 5 a.m.

“Due to the continuing crisis situation, curfew will resume tonight at 8 o'clock until 5AM tomorrow. Schools will also remain closed tomorrow, as well as work in all offices except those agencies providing frontline services,” she said.

Salazar said the operation against the rebels is continuing in an effort to flush them out. “Our police and military authorities continue to safeguard our territories and our people through calibrated military action. They are still out there, keeping the fight for all of us,” she said.

http://mindanaoexaminer.blogspot.com/2013/09/2-hostages-die-32-freed-in-philippine.html

MALPHI 14 concludes Sunday

From the Philippine News Agency (Sep 15): MALPHI 14 concludes Sunday

MALPHI (Malaysian-Philippines) 14, the two-week military exercise, was formally concluded at Camp O' Donnell, Capas, Tarlac Sunday.

The activity has rekindled the long-standing friendly relations between the Philippines and Malaysia.

MALPHI is an annual training activity between the armed forces of the two nation.

Closing ceremonies was done at the PhilippinesPeacekeeping Operations Center in Camp O' Donnell, Capas, Tarlac,

The two armies are represented by no less than their respective branch of service chiefs, Lt. Gen. Noel A. Coballes and his Malaysian counterpart Ge.n Datuk Raja Mohamed Affandi Bin Raja Mohamed Noor.

After two weeks of joint defense planning, was declared officially closed by Coballes who cited significant milestones achieved during the two-week battle simulation exercise and command post exercise.

The activity was capped by the removal of arm bands, yelling of battle cry, and exchanging of mementos between Coballes and Affandi who also expressed their full and unwavering support to similar exercises of the two countries in the future.

“The overarching goal of Land MALPHI Exercise is to provide the venue where both the armies of the Philippines and Malaysia can work and operate together in a simulated conventional environment to address the various defense and security challenges confronting our respective countries. This is the fundamental objective of our bilateral relationship where both our forces are more effective in addressing traditional and non-traditional security concerns jointly, rather than by our individual states,” Coballes said.

In this year’s exercise, a total of 70 and 40 officers and personnel from the Philippine Army and Malaysian Army are respectively involved in the command post and battle simulation exercise.

Given the scenario of a conventional war, this year’s Land MALPHI Exercise adopts a conventional operational setting that is centered on the Malaysian forces coming in aid of the Philippine forces to defend the country’s territory from a notional invading force.

The planners included operations on humanitarian assistance and disaster response aimed at extending assistance to civil authorities in the effective and unhampered discharge of functions, and the management of internally displaced persons and non-combatants that were affected by the armed conflict.

MALPHI’s technical working group had aptly chosen the motto in this year’s Exercise, “In unity, there is strength” which provided both armies the vigor and inspiration to the continuously explore other areas of cooperation where both armies can work together in the future.

Both armies were similarly aware that annual exercises like this seek to enhance the long-standing professional relationship and cooperation between them.

http://www.pna.gov.ph/index.php?idn=1&sid=&nid=1&rid=565968