AFP: MNLF movements monitored 3 days ago
MANILA, Philippines – The military has been monitoring movements of the Moro National Liberation Front three days before the encounter and standoff in Zamboanga City early Monday.
In a press briefing, military spokesman Lt. Col. Ramon Zagala, said troops from Western Mindanao Command were deployed Sunday night specifically in areas of Rio Hondo, Sta. Barbara, Talon-Talon and Mariki on reports that MNLF gunmen would arrive there.
This led to the clash early Monday which killed one soldier, a police officer and several others.
Zagala said the troops were armed with high-caliber firearms and were able to prevent the guerrillas from reaching other villages.
“As early as three days ago [when] they came to Zamboanga City…we have prepared for possible contingencies that may happen,” he told reporters.
He said some of these MNLF members that arrived three days ago entered Zamboanga City unarmed.
“We have information that the MNLF is planning to hold mass action in Zamboanga, but again if you recall a few weeks back they did also have mass action in Davao and it was peaceful but of course we cannot [rule out] the possibility that there may be armed so we prepared for that,” he said.
The MNLF came in different groups and entered separately at different points.
“Three days ago we already monitored them coming in and they are unarmed but yesterday (Sunday) that’s the time we monitored that the armed elements are coming in and we engaged them,” Zagala said.
“We already have a finality in the peace process with them, and the last thing we want them to think is that we are harassing them and if they are entering unarmed, what we can do is monitor them only,” he also said.
All armed forces units in the Western Mindanao area were on alert as of Sunday night, he added.
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