Senators on Zambo: Gov’t must prevent violence
MANILA, Philippines – Senators called on the government to prevent violence and quickly resolve the crisis in Zamboanga City, where suspected members of the Moro National Liberation Front (MNLF) took civilians hostage.
In a statement on Monday, September 9, Sen Aquilino “Koko” Pimentel III called for government action to ensure that the peace process is not derailed. The senator hails from Cagayan de Oro City.
“The government had better do everything in its power to prevent violence from overtaking its peace efforts otherwise more lives will be lost needlessly and the environment of peace and development that the Republic of the Philippines is now enjoying will be ruined,” Pimentel said.
Sen Antonio Trillanes IV said the Zamboanga clashes showed that the peace process involving the Philippine government and the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) did not include all groups and sectors involved. The MILF is a breakaway group of the MNLF.
“With the recent MNLF raid in Zamboanga City, the bombings in Central Mindanao, and the Sabah skirmishes earlier this year, it is now apparent that the consultations for the peace talks have not been inclusive after all,” Trillanes said in a text message.
“The government peace panel should do something about this before another group rises to express their opposition to the peace framework agreement,” he added.
Trillanes, a former navy officer, also urged the Armed Forces of the Philippines to “contain and resolve” the situation and bring the perpetrators to justice.
At least 300 suspected MNLF members took over 4 barangays in Zamboanga City on Monday, with the crisis still ongoing as of posting time.
The Zamboanga attacks came on the day that both the government and the Moro Islamic Liberation Front are scheduled to resume the final leg of their peace talks.
MNLF founder Nur Misuari has been making noise about the supposed failure of the peace agreement that he signed with former President Fidel Ramos in 1996. His faction wants the Aquino government to enter into another round of talks with them, a demand that is seen as an attempt to dilute the peace process between the Aquino government and the MILF.
Although the government invited the MNLF to be part of the Transition Commission that will draft the Bangsamoro Basic Law, the group declined to participate.
Sen Nancy Binay expressed concern about the hostages, reportedly numbering 20 to 30, and called for their immediate and unconditional release.
“We appeal to MNLF Chairman Nur Misuari and Haber Malik for the immediate and unconditional release of the reported 30 hostages, especially the children, women and the elderly,” Binay said in a separate statement.
The senator said hostage-taking violates the International Convention against the Taking of Hostages. She called on religious leaders in the area to help reduce the tension in Zamboanga.
The Senate and the House of Representatives are expected to tackle the Bangsamoro Basic Law, which will provide the legal framework for the proposed Bangsamoro political entity as a product of the peace talks.
The government has set a 2014 deadline for the passage of the law. – Rappler.com