Day 10: Zamboanga city struggles to rise
MANILA, Philippines - The siege in Zamboanga City leaves more than a hundred dead and thousands displaced.
But on day 10 of the standoff, the city starts to show signs of rising again.
Carmela Fonbuena reports.
BENG CLIMACO, ZAMBOANGA CITY MAYOR: Zamboanguenos are bigger than this. We shall fight for justice and rebuild this city. We shall come out stronger after all this.
It’s Day 10 in the standoff between government forces and the MNLF.
Rebels hold their ground in pockets of areas.
Fire broke out again in Sta Catalina.
Two soldiers died in gun battles.
104 people have died, most of them rebels. Almost 126,000 residents are staying in evacuation centers.
But little by little, Zamboanga City is trying to rise again.
The rebels are still here but the release of many hostages was somehow comforting.
JOSEFINA MALINDOG, TEACHER: Ngayon so far sa akin personal okay okay na siya. My prayers were answered already na na-ano na hostages. Feeling ko this will end. (Now, so far, personally the situation is okay. My prayers were answered already. The hostages were released. I feel this will end.)
Schools and offices are still closed. The city continues to impose a curfew.
Zamboanga City’s market remains closed. But vendors have found a temporary place to do business.
Some banks, stores, and restaurants have opened.
The airport and the seaport will soon resume operations.
MYRNA JUHURI, ZAMBOANGA CITY RESIDENT: Monday to Wednesday, mahirap talaga. Mga tao na-phobia…Ngayon okay na. Kasi pwede na pumunta pueblo makabili gulay. (Monday to Wednesday - it’s been really hard. People now have phobias. But now, things are okay because people can go to the town center and buy vegetables.)
Despite the odds, many are hopeful.
TAOPI CASSIMAN, PARKING BOY: 10 days wala ako trabaho. Wala ako makain anak ko, asawa ko. Tapos nagpunta ako kahapon sa DSWD, pinaaalis ako. Kailangan dito evacuate dito…Estimate ko mga Monday pa. hintay na lang tayo. ((For 10 days, I had no work. I couldn’t feed my children or my wife. Yesterday I went to the DSWD and they shooed me away. People here need to evacuate. My estimate is that this will end on Monday. Let’s just wait.)
Mayor Beng Climaco says for Zamboanga City to rise again, it’s important that the attackers are put in jail.
The Mayor wants to make sure it doesn’t happen again.
BENG CLIMACO, ZAMBOANGA CITY MAYOR: I stand firm with President PNoy’s pronouncement that charges shall be filed and justice shall be claimed for those whose lives were wasted in this adversity. Let the perpetrators be put in jail and never be allowed to come back to our city.
The justice department has created a panel to focus on the charges to be filed against the rebels.
Never again. This is Zamboanga City’s battle cry.
Carmela Fonbuena, Rappler, Zamboanga City.