MANILA, Philippines—Senators called on the government on Sunday to “speak with one voice” in order to speed up the resolution of the Zamboanga City stand-off with the Moro National Liberation Front.
Senator Gregorio Honasan II urged the government to observe “unity of command” by ensuring that there was a “central receptacle” for all interaction and decision with the rebels and all options being considered by the President.
Honasan said that while the President, his Cabinet men, and military and police officials have so far “been on the right track” in addressing the week-long impasse, they should avoid making any confusing or distracting moves that could put at risk the lives of more civilians in the battle zone.
“There are a lot of casualties on both sides and the civilians too. We should vow to peacefully stop this from spreading. The violence has spread to Basilan which is a natural counter-strategy to relieve pressure from Zamboanga by spreading government forces,” said Honasan in a phone interview.
Honasan said that he could not presume to know what the President and his men were facing at the ground level. “I approve how they have handled the situation so far but they must resolve to end this soon, because the longer this takes, the higher the risks of losing more lives, property and the peace agreement,” said Honasan.
Senate President Franklin Drilon also called on the government officials to unite behind the President and “let him have a full control of the situation and make all the decisions.”
“Other countries where similar incidents had happened, the rule is we rally around the flag. We rally around the President, and in this particular case, I would strongly suggest that we leave it up to the President because he is the commander in chief. The President has information, which is not shared to everyone and therefore, when he makes a decision, it is on the basis of the facts made known to him,” said Drilon.
Drilon stressed that the country’s sovereignty was not something we should fiddle around with. “We cannot afford to have any other form of government in any other part of the country. Sovereignty is something we cannot compromise. There is only one president, one Armed Forces of the Philippines, Philippine National Police, one government. We cannot accept any other force or any attempt to divide sovereignty,” said Drilon.