Zamboanga City netizens offended by Roxas’ ‘anniversary’ greeting
ZAMBOANGA CITY, Philippines – Netizens, including those following Interior Secretary Mar Roxas’ Facebook page, were stunned after seeing a post around 8:28 a.m. of September 9 that greeted Zamboangueños “Happy Anniversary” in connection with the 2013 siege of the city.
Sta. Catalina village chief Jimmy Villaflores, whose village was among those battered during the month-long rampage by followers of Nur Misuari, said that at first, he found himself speechless.
“It’s crazy,” he later told the Philippine Daily Inquirer, adding that it was unthinkable for anybody to be happy with the carnage.
Jofre Rasul, a political science teacher at the Western Mindanao State University here, said the post was “quite uncalled for and the height of insensitivity, considering that it came from a top-ranking official of the government.”
“This faux pas may cause serious political backlash here in Zamboanga City for the outgoing DILG Secretary, Mar Roxas, who’s actually perceived by many as another trapo, who’s struggling to deodorize his image before the eyes of the public,” Rasul said.
The full text of the first post was: “Hi fellow veterans of the Zamboanga siege, Happy anniversary. Just wanted to take a moment and reflect and thank you for your leadership and commitment to welfare of our people and country. Maraming salamat. Being with you all those 21 days has touched me indelibly. Know that our country stands strong and our flag flies high because of you and the men and women like you. We battle on. Mabuhay ang Pilipinas.”
At 8:42 a.m., it was edited and the words “Happy Anniversary” had been deleted.
Kiko Miranda, a homegrown artist and a theater director, said the memory of the siege “made Zamboangueños very sensitive on the issue.”
“We are still healing from it. To trivialize that painful part of our history by the ‘Happy Anniversary’ greeting is downright insensitive and disrespectful. He lost what little respect I have for him,” he said.
Noel Kinazo Felongco of Cebu City said he wondered why Roxas was “happy” over the Zamboanga siege.
Many netizens even gave below the belt reactions to the post
The siege left dozens of people dead or injured, including Moro National Liberation Front (MNLF) members loyal to Misuari, civilians and security forces, and had displaced 120,000 residents. More than 10,000 homes were also burned in the course of the violence.
More than 200 civilians – children and women included – would later die of illnesses at evacuation centers.
Ramada Jose, one of the internally displaced persons, said only a sick person could celebrate the siege.
“A lot of victims are still suffering and it’s such a stupid way to remind people of his heroic presence during the siege,” Jacqueline Rogong, a social media user, commented. Julie Alipala