Quantcast
Latest Stories

Life picks up in Zamboanga as troops corner rebels


Boats of villagers fleeing the fighting between government forces and Muslim rebels continue to crowd a port in Zamboanga City, Philippines on Wednesday. A local police chief abducted by a small band of Muslim rebels convinced them to surrender and emerged free, but a separate larger group continued to hold several hostages, officials said. AP

ZAMBOANGA CITY, Philippines — Life in this city at the center of a hostage crisis is slowly returning to normal, as troops went house-to-house Wednesday searching for the remaining Muslim rebels and their hostages in a 10-day standoff that displaced more than 100,000 people.

As the worst fighting in years between Muslim rebels and government troops eased, the military warned the rebel holdouts that they faced two choices: Surrender unconditionally, or “suffer the consequences and feel the weight of the suffering of so many innocent people in your hands,” said military spokesman Lieutenant  Colonel Ramon Zagala.

The standoff began September 9 when Moro National Liberation Front rebels tried to take control of Zamboanga, a major port city of nearly 1 million people. They were foiled by troops but still managed to take scores of people hostage.

The military pressure has resulted in the release of 178 hostages so far. The fighting has killed 14 soldiers and police and seven civilians, while 86 rebels have died and 93 others have been captured.

About 30 to 40 rebels, led by Habier Malik, remained hiding with 21 hostages in two communities, authorities said Wednesday. Troops, ordnance teams and bomb-sniffing dogs were scouring 70 percent of the coastal areas previously occupied by the insurgents.

“It looks like it’s nearing the end. The government is doing its best to put the situation under control,” said Rogelio de Sosa, plant manager of the Zamboanga Universal Fishing Corp. Fishing and canning industries are the city’s lifeline, and factories were forced to cut production because of fighting, a naval blockade and closure of the city’s airport and seaport.

Zamboanga Mayor Isabelle Climaco-Salazar called on residents to remain steadfast. “Let not devastation creep in our hearts,” she said, holding back tears. “We shall fight for justice, we shall rebuild this city, we shall come out stronger after all this.”

The Civil Aviation Authority of the Philippines said flights would resume Thursday. Stores and banks have already reopened in the city center.

De Sosa said his company faced a shutdown unless the city’s bustling port reopened soon. “We will not have any raw materials to use. We also cannot ship out our finished products. So it is futile to keep on producing,” he said.

The MNLF faction, overshadowed by a rival and bigger rebel group in negotiations with the government to expand an autonomous Muslim region in the predominantly Roman Catholic nation’s south, barged into the city several weeks after declaring independence in Muslim-dominated southern provinces.

Led by Nur Misuari, the group signed a peace deal in 1996, but the guerrillas did not lay down their arms and later accused the government of reneging on a promise to develop long-neglected Muslim regions. The government says the rebels, with several hundred armed fighters, refused to take part in the ongoing talks with their rivals — the 11,000-strong Moro Islamic Liberation Front — because they insisted they are the sole representatives of minority Muslims.

De Sosa said his cannery cannot operate 24 hours a day because of a curfew that remains in effect.

“Our workers are affected,” he said, adding that many employees’ houses were burned down.

“Some of them are able to go to work because they moved in with relatives,” he said. “Some have only the clothes on their backs. So we are contributing used clothes and things so they can continue to work.”

He said the factory, which normally produces 1 million cans a day, was down to half capacity, with a 50 percent workforce.


Follow Us

Follow us on Facebook Follow on Twitter Follow on Twitter


Recent Stories:

Complete stories on our Digital Edition newsstand for tablets, netbooks and mobile phones; 14-issue free trial. About to step out? Get breaking alerts on your mobile.phone. Text ON INQ BREAKING to 4467, for Globe, Smart and Sun subscribers in the Philippines.

Tags: Insurgency , Military , MNLF , rebellion , Regions , Unrest , Violence , Zamboanga City




Copyright © 2014, .
To subscribe to the Philippine Daily Inquirer newspaper in the Philippines, call +63 2 896-6000 for Metro Manila and Metro Cebu or email your subscription request here.
Factual errors? Contact the Philippine Daily Inquirer's day desk. Believe this article violates journalistic ethics? Contact the Inquirer's Reader's Advocate. Or write The Readers' Advocate:
c/o Philippine Daily Inquirer Chino Roces Avenue corner Yague and Mascardo Streets, Makati City, Metro Manila, Philippines Or fax nos. +63 2 8974793 to 94
Advertisement
  1. 12 senators on Napoles ‘pork’ list, says Lacson
  2. Save the queen? Aide takes fall for Enrile, Gigi Reyes
  3. Palace prepared to charge its allies
  4. Senator’s kickback from pork bigger than those of Enrile, Estrada, Revilla – Lacson
  5. Napoles turnaround alarms whistle-blowers
  6. What Went Before: Malacañang allies alleged involvement in pork scam
  7. Napoles spills beans on Enrile, Estrada, Revilla – De Lima
  8. Timeline: Napoles tell-all
  9. HK apology: Why Estrada and not Aquino?
  10. Cedric Lee’s cohort flies out of PH despite look-out order – De Lima
  1. Napoles spills beans on Enrile, Estrada, Revilla – De Lima
  2. Gigi Reyes pins blame on aide
  3. Estrada: Gigi Reyes won’t testify vs JPE
  4. Bernice Lee arrested by NBI team
  5. Enrile chief aide back in PH ‘to face charges’
  6. ‘No real progress in PH if dynasties not dismantled’
  7. Suspect in Vhong Navarro’s mauling wants to turn state witness – De Lima
  8. Reckless driver endangered lives of Aquino, entourage–report
  9. More legal woes for Cedric Lee
  10. Henares on Pacquiao bashing: I did not start this
  1. KL confirms Malaysian Airlines Flight MH370 ended in Indian Ocean
  2. MRT passengers pass the hat for 6-year-old Ashley
  3. Rookie, lady cops lauded for quick response to MOA heist
  4. Malaysia averts another air tragedy; pilot lands troubled plane safely
  5. Revilla says he was joking; Lacson stands by his story
  6. Revilla ‘consulted’ Lacson on how he evaded arrest
  7. Cudia, dismissed for lying, got 99% in conduct
  8. Kim Henares needs a reprimand, says Cayetano
  9. Hammer-wielding robbers cause chaos at Philippines’ Mall of Asia
  10. Napoles spills beans on Enrile, Estrada, Revilla – De Lima
Advertisement

News

  • Ex-COA chief and co-accused in Arroyo plunder case nabbed
  • Kris Aquino’s ex- close in security named new Air Force chief
  • The ‘link diagram’ that killed ex-Bataan police officer
  • Cebu has hair of John Paul II and piece of John XXIII’s skin
  • LTRFB denies Victory Liner appeal
  • Sports

  • NLEX holds off Jumbo Plastic for a playoff berth
  • Pacquiao can dodge tax issues
  • F1 boss Bernie Ecclestone rejects bribery charges
  • Big Chill freezes Cafe France to arrest skid
  • Pacquiao has to go through PBA Rookie draft
  • Lifestyle

  • Gongs and southern dances star in a workshop at San Francisco Bayanihan Center
  • This woman ate what?
  • Photos explore dynamics of youths’ sexual identity
  • 12th Philippine Food Expo set at the World Trade Center
  • No tourist draw, Malang the croc will remain wild
  • Entertainment

  • Smithsonian wants photos, videos for ‘Day in the Life of Asian Pacific Americans’
  • What Garcia Marquez left behind
  • Has Ai Ai fallen deeply with ‘sireno?’
  • Sony developing live-action Barbie comedy
  • California court won’t review Jackson doctor case
  • Business

  • Metro Pacific acquires stake in Victorias
  • How ‘one percent’ economic elite was uncovered
  • Facebook profits triple as mobile soars
  • Insular Honors Sales Performers at Testimonial Rites
  • Apple increases stock buyback, will split stock
  • Technology

  • Enrile in Masters of the Universe, Lord of the Rings?
  • Top Traits of Digital Marketers
  • No truth to viral no-visa ‘chronicles’
  • ‘Unlimited’ Internet promos not really limitless; lawmakers call for probe
  • Viber releases new design for iPhone, comes to Blackberry 10 for the first time
  • Opinion

  • Editorial cartoon, April 24, 2014
  • Talking to Janet
  • Respite
  • Bucket list
  • JPII in 1981: walking a tightrope
  • Global Nation

  • Filipinos second-shortest in Southeast Asia
  • Obama to visit Filipino soldiers in Fort Bonifacio
  • Fil-Am youth conferences unite under one theme
  • Embassy advisory: Filipinos still need visas to enter US
  • No travel restriction to Mideast, DFA clarifies
  • Marketplace
    Advertisement