Two years after the armed conflict in Zamboanga City, Vice President Jejomar Binay pointed out that the lives of hundreds of residents have not yet normalized.
”Two years after the tragedy, hundreds remain in transitory homes where access to basic services and facilities is limited. They continue to live in squalor, with reports of women and children being raped and forced into prostitution, and the evacuees exposed to disease and malnutrition,” he said in a statement.
He added that the armed conflict resulted in the destruction of more than 10,000 homes and displacement of close to 120,000 individuals.
There was at least P3.5 billion earmarked for the recovery and reconstruction of Zamboanga City.
“Yet, as is the case with the other crises this administration has handled, we have yet to see the effects of such funding in addressing the needs of those affected,” said Binay.
”We pay tribute to the courage of the people of Zamboanga City. On their own they have picked up the pieces of their lives. They are the casualties of an administration’s stubborn refusal to agree to a ceasefire that could have spared the city and its people from the wages of armed conflict. They continue to suffer from the administration’s inept and uncaring response to the humanitarian crisis that followed,” he added.
The Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) on Wednesday commemorated the incident in honor of the soldiers and policemen who died in the battle that started on September 9, 2013 and ended on September 28. Around 200 people died and more than 100 were wounded during the battle.
“We commemorate this day in honor of the valiant men and women of the Armed Forces and the police who died during that siege. That’s among the things that we commemorate today, the sacrifice of our people,” said Col. Restituto Padilla, AFP spokesman.
Meanwhile, the AFP has pledged to help the Philippine National Police (PNP) in serving the arrest warrant against Moro National Liberation Front (MNLF) Chairman Nur Misuari and other leaders.
Padilla said while the PNP and the National Bureau of Investigation (NBI) are the government agencies tasked to serve the warrants, they may face security problem in dealing with the formidable force of the separatist group.
Based on general information, Padilla said Misuari may still be in the vicinity of Jolo, Sulu and Tawi Tawi.
He did not discount the possibility that the rebel leader may be already out of the country, the reason why authorities are having a hard time locating him.
But Padilla immediately clarified that the said information is not yet confirmed.
He pointed out that it has been two years and justice should have been served.
“I’m really not sure about the reasons why we are having a hard time locating him, maybe he is in the area where he has control of the people who could be hiding him and keeping him away. For all we know he is not in the country, he may be out of the country. I’m not sure about that, but those are the things that we continue to explore and work with other agencies. That’s why it is a joint intelligence effort to locate him and serve the warrant,” Padilla added.