Zambo problem must be handled by national gov’t – Rep. Biazon
MANILA—The handling of the Zamboanga City standoff must be done at the national level, according to former armed forces chief of staff and Muntinlupa Representative Rodolfo Biazon.
Biazon said the standoff between government forces and a faction of the Moro National Liberation Front led by Nur Misuari was a complex matter that went beyond Zamboanga City and could affect the whole of Mindanao.
The Misuari-led MNLF faction reportedly entered Zamboanga City villages on Monday and clashed with government forces. It also took hostages.
This came a day before the resumption of peace talks between the government and the Moro Islamic Liberation Front, which had broken away from the MNLF years earlier. Misuari, who concluded a peace agreement with the government in 1996, has been critical of the peace talks with the MILF.
“I’m proposing that the government elevate the authority of crisis management to the national level, beyond the authority of the mayor of Zamboanga,” Biazon told reporters. “Any decisions we make may have ramifications in the future.”
He said the team should be composed of the Department of National Defense, the Department of the Interior and Local Government, the Department of Justice, and the Office of the Presidential Adviser on the Peace Process.
It must also be clear who would be calling the shots and acting as the ground commander. The crisis must be resolved soon as well, he added.
“The longer it takes, nerves would be frayed. If they become tired and emotions become a factor, now anything can happen,” he said.
Meanwhile, the United Nationalist Alliance castigated the DILG and the Philippine National Police for failing to detect the MNLF movements in Zamboanga City before the matter could escalate, despite the hefty intelligence budget of these agencies.
The UNA statement also noted that for 2014, the DILG is asking for an intelligence budget of P360 million, which is bigger than the proposed intelligence fund of the DND, which is P246 million.
“The MNLF movements in Zamboanga are a massive failure of intelligence. What happened to the intelligence budget of the DILG and PNP? Somebody must be sleeping on the job,” UNA secretary general Toby Tiangco said in a statement.
He added that there had already been indications earlier that MNLF members were massing.
He said that the DILG and PNP were remiss in preventing the recent bombings in Mindanao.
“It is obvious that the DILG is spreading itself too thin with so many things preoccupying itself outside its mandate. After several lapses in its intelligence-gathering capability, the question is, can the DILG still live up to its mission in ensuring public safety?” he said.
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