BASILAN, Philippines – Local officials and residents gathered at the Veterans Memorial Gardens to remember the 2013 Zamboanga Siege on Friday, September 19.
Zamboanga Mayor John Dalipe led the commemorative program organized to honor the “fallen heroes” of the 23-day battle between government forces and a Moro National Liberation Front (MNLF) faction loyal to the group’s founding chairman, Nur Misuari.
Exactly nine years ago, some 500 MNLF members raided Zamboanga City over what they said was the failure of the government to follow the 1996 peace settlement they had with the Ramos administration.
The 2013 fighting resulted in the deaths of more than 200 people, mostly rebels and over a dozen government troops, and the evacuations of hundreds of thousands.
Dalipe issued an executive order, declaring September 9 of every year as a Day of Remembrance.
He said the 2013 siege was a historical moment when Zamboangueños showed their resilience as a people.
It was, he said, “a testament that our togetherness speaks of so much power.”
Dalipe added, “As we remember those who sacrificed their lives for us, may we be inspired by their living legacy of giving us liberty.”
City hall honored 38 people – 20 soldiers, five policemen, and 13 civilians – who were killed during the three-week siege.
“We will never forget the 9th of September but we will rise above the historical event carrying a renewed faith in humanity as we work together for a more progressive, more developed Ciudad de Zamboanga,” Dalipe said.
But nine years later, the government’s rehabilitation and recovery efforts remained slow. Infrastructure projects intended for the badly affected villages of Mariki, Rio Hondo, Santa Barbara, Kasanyangan, and Santa Catalina, have yet to be completed. – Rappler.com