BAD weather has delayed the self-imposed deadline set by government security forces to “mop” the areas affected by the recent conflict in Zamboanga City, according to a military spokesman.
Maj. Franco Alano, spokesperson of the Armed Forces of the Philippines-Western Mindanao Command (AFP-Westmincom), said on Sunday that the mopping up operations have been extended by another 10 days.
He explained that aside from last week’s floods that hit Zamboanga City caused by rains brought by the inter-tropical convergence zone, there were other variables that added to the delay, including the possibility that there might still be some Moro National Liberation Front (MNLF) stragglers hiding in the affected areas.
“We won’t sacrifice security over speed. We are not taking any chances,” Franco stressed.
The 14-day deadline set by the clearing operations group lapsed on Saturday.
Franco pointed out that the actual clearing operation was over and focus is now on mopping up operations as added precautionary measures to ensure the safety of the residents.
“We’re through with clearing, we’re just mopping up,” he added
Earlier, Lt. Col. Ramon Zagala, chief of the Public Affairs Office of the AFP, said that the clearing and mopping operations were necessary to ensure that no MNLF members were left and all bombs and other ordnaces left behind that may pose danger to the residents are cleaned up.
The Zamboanga conflict has been declared over on September 29 or three weeks after some 300 MNLF rebels occupied at least five coastal barangays of the city.