Another fire puzzles residents of Zamboanga City village attacked by MNLF | Inquirer News

Another fire puzzles residents of Zamboanga City village attacked by MNLF

/ 03:46 PM October 17, 2013


ZAMBOANGA CITY, Philippines – Village officials and residents of Kasanyangan in Barangay (village) Sta. Catalina here were puzzled as they watched from their evacuation centers a fire gobbling up more than 50 houses on Wednesday evening.

Were there any Moro National Liberation Front (MNLF) gunmen still lurking in the village?


People were asking this question as fire engines came and went to put off the 10:30 p.m. fire.


“We thought our area had been cleared of MNLF gunmen already. Why did this happen?” Sta. Catalina village councilor Boy Arabi told the Philippine Daily Inquirer on Thursday.

Sta. Catalina village chair Belman Malandi said the fire was puzzling because the village has been uninhabited since Sept. 9, when MNLF members came in with guns, ready to take over the city and declare “Bangsamoro independence.”

He said only soldiers under Task Force Suyod, who have been conducting clearing operations, have been in and out of the village for days now.

Nobody — not the displaced residents, who remained traumatized by three weeks of violence between government security forces and MNLF gunmen, nor village officials — could explain the fire.

The conflagration, which City Fire Marshall Dominador Zabala Jr. said had damaged about P1 million in property, actually started in the houses on the mangrove area of Kasanyangan.

But Zabala said they had not determined the fire’s origin as of yet and that investigation was still being conducted.


The fire was put under control around 1 a.m. and had gutted down more than 50 structures, he said.

Colonel Ignacio Obligacion, commander of the Task Force Igsoon, said they could not also determine how the fire started, or whether or not it was deliberately set.

“We still don’t know how it started,” he said.

Lt. Col. Randolph Sinocruz, a military spokesperson, admitted that they had not cleared the entire area of Sta. Catalina yet.

Although he would not categorically say it, Sinocruz hinted that there could still be MNLF gunmen wandering about the village and had continued to elude government security forces.

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“The Task Force Suyod teams are dealing with swampy areas,” was all he said when asked about this possibility.

TAGS: Barangay, Fire, Insurgency, Military, News, rebellion, Regions

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