MANILA, Philippines – Malacañang on Thursday, September 12, warned the Moro National Liberation Front (MNLF) against prolonging the standoff in Zamboanga City, as the siege reached its 4th day.
In a statement, Presidential Spokesperson Edwin Lacierda told the MNLF that state forces are “ready to exercise the resolve of the government.”
“While the government is exhausting all avenues for a peaceful resolution to the situation, let it be clear to those defying us that they should not entertain the illusion that the state will hesitate to use its forces to protect our people,” the statement read.
“Instead, it is time for you to cooperate to resolve this situation peacefully at the soonest possible time,” it added.
The government has identified the faction of the MNLF led by its founder Nur Misuari as being the group responsible for the ongoing siege of Zamboanga that has caused an entire city lockdown.
Malacañang also assured the public that those who will seek to take advantage of the situation will be proven wrong.
Government troops were caught in a firefight with combined forces of the Moro National Liberation Front (MNLF), Abu Sayyaf Group (ASG), and Bangsamoro Islamic Freedom Fighters (BIFF) in Basilan on Thursday , killing 3 soldiers and wounding 9 others.
“The BIFF and ASG assumed they could take advantage of the situation. They were wrong. As others who will also make similar attempts will be proven wrong,” Malacañang said.
The government also called on the public to refrain from spreading rumors and instead wait for official information from authorities.
Misuari wants the government to reopen negotiations for unimplemented provisions of the 1996 peace pact. He is opposed to the ongoing peace talks between MNLF’s breakaway group, Moro Islamic Liberation Front, and the government.
To address his concerns, the government, MNLF and the Organization on Islamic Cooperation (OIC) are conducting a tripartite review of the implementation of the 1996 peace pact.
Amid the ongoing siege, Presidential Adviser on the Peace Process Teresita Deles said the government wants the scheduled meeting on September 16 to 17 in Indonesia with the MNLF and OIC to push through. – Angela Casauay/Rappler.com