ZAMBOANGA CITY: After four months, the Zamboanga City’s crisis management committee (CMC) headed by Mayor Maria Isabelle Salazar finally lifted on Monday a four-hour curfew imposed following a failed rebellion in September.
“The crisis management committee now lifts the city-wide curfew starting today, December 2,” the committee said in the official twitter page of the local government unit.
The announcement was also made at a ceremony paying tribute to fallen and living “heroes” who helped quell the rebellion of the Moro National Liberation Front (MNLF) in Zamboanga City. The committee passed a resolution lifting the curfew following the recommendation of police and military authorities.
The curfew was imposed in September following three weeks of deadly street battles between government troops and the MNLF separatists who stormed several villages in Zamboanga. The fighting, started in September 9, killed and wounded over 400 people and forced more than 100,000 villagers to flee their homes.
Various sectors in Zamboanga have complained about the continued imposition of curfew and so with members of the city council, citing the adverse economic impact on Zamboanga, a month after military and police quelled the rebellion.
Salazar has originally imposed a nine-hour (8 p.m. to 5 a.m.) curfew, which became five hours or from 12 p.m. to 5 a.m. in the whole province and then further adjusted to 4 a.m.
With the curfew, dozens of civilians were being apprehended and many of them briefly detained after interrogations by police.
Even media workers had to get curfew passes from the CMC so they could do their night jobs but the curfew pass does not guarantee their safety from apprehension. Reporters from dxRZ Radyo Agong, despite presenting their media cards, were briefly detained by the police.
Groceries and supermarkets were also forced to reduce store hours while hotels, restaurants and other night establishments were also affected by the curfew. Provincial buses from Cagayan de Oro and Pagadian cities have stopped plying at night to Zamboanga because of the curfew hours.
At nighttime, the scene in Zamboanga during the curfew was reminiscent to what the entire country went through 20 years ago —dark and silent with just dogs roaming on the streets. And yet, the local government has been appealing to residents to help rebuild Zamboanga from the ashes or war and from the recent devastation from natural calamities.