The 19-day long Zamboanga crisis is over even if the leaders of the Moro National Liberation Front (MNLF) that led the violent attacks remain at large, a Palace official said Saturday.
Palace deputy spokesman Abigail Valte made the announcement in the aftermath of the statement of Defense Secretary Voltaire Gazmin that the Zamboanga crisis is now over.
“It is certainly over. The Defense Secretary has made the announcement and we have always maintained that we are dealing with the situation and that it is the official on the ground who will be making the announcement based on their assessment,” Valte told state-run Radyo ng Bayan.
The MNLF faction led by Nur Misuari and Habier Malik stormed Zamboanga City in September 9 in an attempt to declare independence and plant the flag of Bangsamoro Republik in the City to no avail. In doing so, this MNLF faction launched offensive that included firing at state troops and civilians such as sniper attacks, burning houses and schools, as well as taking over at least 195 hostages to serve as their human shield.
“Our task from Day 1 is to ensure the safety of the hostage, recover all the civilians and keep them from harm’s way. It has been accomplished,” Valte added.
Likewise, Valte assured that the Department of Social Welfare and Development is on top of providing assistance to at least 120,000 people in evacuation centers and protecting women and children from possible sexual abuses.
The security forces, on the other hand, has been tasked by President Benigno Aquino 3rd to check on reports that influential and big names in the government financed Misuari and his comrades’ assault in Zamboanga.
Sen. Miriam Santiago earlier accused Sen. Juan Ponce Enrile of financing Misuari’s Zamboanga takeover.
Enrile served as the Finance Minister and the Defense Minister during the Martial Law years under the late dictator Ferdinand Marcos. LLANESCA T. PANTI