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Zamboanga folk rally: ‘We’ve had enough’

/ 12:07 AM April 03, 2014

ZAMBOANGA CITY—At least 700 protesters, mostly evacuees, students, Moro professionals and members of nongovernment and civil society groups, staged a rally here Wednesday saying they’ve had enough of subhuman conditions in shelters for residents displaced by the fighting between followers of Nur Misuari and government soldiers in September last year.

The protesters directed their anger at Mayor Isabelle Climaco-Salazar, accusing her of corruption, incompetence and human rights violations.

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The mayor, the protest leaders said, is prolonging the agony of Muslim evacuees in shelters here.

The Inquirer tried but failed to reach Salazar for comment. A staffer of hers said she was in Singapore.

Mucha Sim Arquiza, speaking on behalf of Moro women group Al-Mu’Minat, said Muslim evacuees have long wanted to leave the shelters but the city government is not doing anything to relocate the people.

“We have had enough,” Arquiza said. “205 days homeless is long enough. 120,000 displaced is too much and 108 people dead in congested evacuation centers is far too many,” she added.

“We decided to stop counting our dead because one death is too many. We are starting to count the failure and ineptitude of this government,” Arquiza said.

Warina Sushil Jukuy, coordinator of the Philippine Alliance of Human Rights Advocates (Pahra) in Western Mindanao, said the city government uprooted families without knowing where to put them or checking if the shelters are livable.

Even people who have not been affected by the terror attack on the city by Misuari’s men and the government siege to flush them out have been uprooted, said Jukuy.

Jukuy said families from the villages of Mariki and Rio Hondo “were coerced to evacuate and abandon their homes.”

“Yet, these zones are areas where the armed conflict or actual combat never took place,” Jukuy said.

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Prof. Alih Aiyub, secretary general of the National Ulama Conference of the Philippines, said his group has been meeting with city officials to find a solution but city officials offered only promises.

“We regularly communicate with the mayor,” said Aiyub.

“She’s meeting us and keeps on promising that rebuilding, relocation, rehabilitation will be done within six months,” added the professor.

“She promised that by March, the IDPs (internally displaced persons) will start to move and see better changes. It’s April now and people are dying in the evacuation centers,” Aiyub said. Julie S. Alipala, Inquirer Mindanao

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TAGS: corruption, Dislocation, human rights violations, Incompetence, Isabelle Climaco-Salazar, Moro, Mucha Sim Arquiza, Muslim Evacuees, National Ulama Conference of the Philippines, Nur Misuari, Prof. Alih Aiyub, Singapore, Zamboanga
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