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Labor groups call for ceasefire in Zamboanga City


06:13 PM September 18th, 2013

By: Tina G. Santos, September 18th, 2013 06:13 PM

Government troops man an intersection where renewed fighting between government forces and Muslim rebels enters its second week Monday, Sept. 16, 2013 at Zamboanga city in southern Philippines. AP Photo/Bullit Marquez

MANILA, Philippines — Several groups on Wednesday called for an immediate ceasefire between troops of the government and the Moro National Liberation Front (MNLF) as the conflict in Zamboanga City worsened.

Workers led by Kilusang Mayo Uno on Wednesday gathered at the Plaza Miranda in Manila to light candles to condemn the war in Zamboanga City, which they claimed was the Aquino administration’s tactic to divert the people’s attention away from calls to abolish the pork barrel system.

Carrying placards that read “Stop Aquino’s war in Mindanao!” and “No blood for pork barrel cover up!” the workers emphasized that the war has caused the death of dozens and displaced thousands of people.

“We light these candles to call for an immediate end to the war and to call for vigilance among Filipinos. This war was launched in an attempt to divert the public’s attention away from the pork barrel scandal and is causing so much death and destruction,” said Roger Soluta, KMU secretary-general.

The labor center said the Aquino administration has refused to address the root cause of the Moro people’s armed rebellion by solving poverty and has worsened the poverty being faced by the people of Zamboanga City and nearby towns.

“The biggest fault for this situation lies with the Aquino [administration] for failing to solve the root causes of the Moro people’s armed rebellion and for sidelining the MNLF in its so-called peace efforts. Instead of addressing the root causes of rebellion, it is employing divide-and-rule tactics against the armed insurgent groups,” Soluta said.

The Federation of Free Workers (FFW) likewise called for a ceasefire in Zamboanga City, saying business has lost billions of pesos because of the siege.

“Some were kind enough to pay wages through the work suspension but this can’t go on forever. No work, no pay. And with no production, these businesses may permanently shut down,” said Sonny Matula, who heads FFW with 200,000 members.

“Workers and members of their families are getting killed, injured and displaced and losing income. Work and classes have been suspended by the local government since the war broke out,” he added.

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