Military denies ceasefire in Zamboanga
MANILA, Philippines—A military spokesman said Saturday no directive had been given to the Armed Forces of the Philippines for a ceasefire in Zamboanga and government troops were continuing with the “calibrated offensive” ordered by President Benigno Aquino against a faction of Moro National Liberation Front (MNLF) loyal to founding chairman Nur Misuari.
“We haven’t received any orders yet [about a ceasefire]. Because of the mortar attacks and the burning of the houses by the MNLF, the AFP did a calibrated offensive operation against the MNLF to stop them from endangering the lives of the civilians,” Armed Forces spokesman Lieutenant Colonel Ramon Zagala told the Inquirer by phone.
Zagala said the “calibrated operations” had the approval of Aquino, who spent the night in Zamboanga City.
Zagala reiterated what Aquino said on Friday that the primary concern of the government amid the security crisis was the safety of civilians.
By 11 a.m. Saturday, the President and Defense Secretary Voltaire Gazmin were visiting the evacuation center at the Zamboanga City Sports Complex.
On Friday night, Vice President Jejomar Binay announced that a ceasefire between the military and the MNLF would take effect at midnight.
Binay said he had spoken to both Gazmin and Misuari about the ceasefire and that the men would lay down the terms of the truce.
An Inquirer source said Binay was on his way to Zamboanga City Saturday morning.