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585 Zambo families still homeless

4 years after siege by Misuari’s men, 10 temporary sites are still being operated by the government
/ 05:20 AM September 11, 2017

Among the displaced by the siege on Zamboanga City were Badjaos, like this father and son fetching drinking water, who had been offered these new houses on stilts (top photo) in a resettlement site. —JULIE S. ALIPALA

Among the displaced by the siege on Zamboanga City were Badjaos, like this father and son fetching drinking water, who had been offered these new houses on stilts (top photo) in a resettlement site. —JULIE S. ALIPALA

ZAMBOANGA CITY — Four years after the siege here by renegade Moro rebels that displaced hundreds of thousands of residents, a total of 585 families remain in temporary sites provided by the government.

Maria Socorro Rojas, city social welfare officer, said there were still 10 temporary sites scattered all over the city.

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Three years ago, there were 12 temporary sites.

“We hope to close the temporary sites in December this year,” Rojas said.

The Sept. 9, 2013 siege on the city had left more than 120,000 individuals from Barangays Santa Catalina, Santa Barbara, Mariki, Kasanyangan, Rio Hondo, Mampang and Talon-Talon homeless.

More than 10,000 homes were burned during the fighting between government forces and members of the Moro National Liberation Front (MNLF) who were in the city to hold a rally, but ended up occupying the city and trying to declare an independent Moro state.

Casualties

A total of 25 government forces, 208 MNLF members and 12 civilians were killed in the siege that lasted for more than three weeks.

In 2014, then Public Works Secretary Rogelio Singson said the Aquino administration had allotted P3.5 billion for the Z3R, or Zamboanga City Roadmap to Recovery and Reconstruction.

During his site visit in July 2014, Singson said the government had to build 7,176 permanent homes through the National Housing Authority (NHA).

Mayor Maria Isabelle Salazar said a total of 6,343 houses were programmed for construction. Of these, at least 5,480 units had been completed, while 829 were still being finished.

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On Sept. 7, the NHA turned over 433 units.

Salazar said the NHA was “already in the final partial fulfillment of NHA housing units, from the time we started in 2013.”

Salazar, during the commemoration of the siege on Saturday, admitted many families still needed permanent homes.

“There are still IDPs (internally displaced persons),” the mayor said.

Assurance

“But we would like to assure the NHA is in charge of the total turnover. We expect there will be full turnover of houses,” she said.

Members of Nur Misuari’s MNLF faction arrived in Zamboanga City on Sept. 9.

Fully armed, they claimed they were in the city to hold a rally in Plaza Pershing, which was just in front of the city hall.

Misuari, months earlier, declared independence of the Bangsamoro Republik after lambasting the government for allegedly reneging on a peace agreement signed in 1996.

The fighting between government troops and MNLF forces in several Zamboanga villages lasted three weeks, forcing more than 120,000 residents to evacuate.

When the fighting was over, the evacuees did not have homes to return to as these were razed during aerial bombing operations conducted by the government. —Julie S. Alipala

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TAGS: Maria Socorro Rojas, Zamboanga City refugees, Zamboanga City siege
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