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Zamboanga folk go home to ‘nightmare’

/ 07:35 PM November 01, 2013

A RESIDENT passes by the dome of the Al Rahman Mosque in the village of Rio Hondo in Zamboanga City, which was destroyed during fighting between government soldiers and followers of Nur Misuari. JULIE ALIPALA/INQUIRER MINDANAO

ZAMBOANGA CITY—Kadil Hasim, a widower with two children, used to call his home in the village of Kasanyangan here a paradise.

“Now, it’s like stepping into a horror movie. In every corner, I see piles and piles of burned scrap metals, broken glasses and bottles, toppled posts, burned plastics sticking to burned tiles and iron bars, burned wires and cables, and burned cars, bikes, motorbikes and pedicabs,” Hasim, a former school teacher, said.

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“It’s a nightmare,” he added.

Hasim grew up in Kasanyangan. When his wife died years ago, he decided to be a homestay father to his children— aged 11 and 9. With his savings, he put up a “sari-sari” store and bought pedicabs. All these were gone when he returned, weeks after fighting between government forces and followers of Moro leader Nur Misuari.

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Hasim, who admitted to not having documents to show that he owned the land where his house once stood, said he would do everything to get his property back.

Land of scrap

In Barangay Santa Barbara, Arcid Biri still could not believe the P200,000 worth of renovation he made just got wasted because of the fighting that led to the burning of his house.

“We just had a renovation. Now, all we got is scrap,” Biri said. When Biri first returned to Santa Barbara last week, he thought he had accepted his fate.

“Instead of greeting people with warm smiles, everyone was emotional,” he said.

“This is too much,” he added.

“It is not just a junkyard community, it’s like Smokey Mountain,” Biri said, referring to the dump in Manila that became famous worldwide as a picture of Philippine poverty.

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Nora Abisana of Lustre Drive in Santa Barbara said she came home to nothing.

“Not even a burned nail was left,” said Abisana, who had planned to sell burned materials from her house and small eatery.

Making money from trash

Hasim, who was the first to reach his burned house, was still able to earn P6,000 from selling scrap metal.

Quirino Mendoza and his wife, Carmencita, residents of Barangay Talon-Talon, see an opportunity in this “junkyard community.”

“We are earning much from these scrap. All we need is a big capital and a truck but all we have is a cart,” Quirino said.

The Mendozas buy scrap GI sheets at P8 to P10 per kilogram. They sell these to junkyard owners at P12 per kg.

Chief Insp. Monabibi Akibba, a police chief of Sacol Island whose house was also gutted by fire, said the destruction was “unimaginable.”

Burning the barn

Lorie Rivera, a businessman in Martha Drive, Santa Catalina, said she lost more than P200 million worth of stocks, goods, cash and jewelry to the fire and fighting.

“It’s like they (government) were trying to eliminate a single rat by burning the entire barn,” Rivera said.

Rivera owned a warehouse for goods, like wine, beer, medicines, cellular phones, cellular cards and other items.

Rivera said a military intelligence source informed him the Army had dropped bombs on his place to flush out followers of Misuari, who reportedly were able to climb his 15-meter high concrete fence.

What hurt him most, Rivera said, was to see their rooms riddled with bullets and all their vaults forcibly opened. Julie S. Alipala, Inquirer Mindanao

 

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TAGS: Armed conflict, Kasanyangan, MNLF, Nur Misuari, Zamboanga City
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