ZAMBOANGA CITY: Mayor Maria Isa–belle Salazar vowed to protect human rights in Zamboanga City and called on the public to support the government in the pursuit of peace and development here.
“We respect human rights and we uphold the rights of citizens in Zamboanga,” she told The Manila Times.
Salazar’s statement came after the United Nations and the Human Rights Watch issued separate statements over the plight of thousands of war victims who are still in filthy evacuation centers eight months after Moro National Liberation Front members attacked Zamboanga.
The assault left more than 400 people dead and wounded and displaced over 120,000 villagers following three weeks of deadly street clashes and house to house battle.
Salazar said there are bunk–houses where refugees can temporarily stay while the government works on the rehabilitation projects in areas devastated by the fighting. But many refugees wanted to return to their original village and habitat.
Since September, more than 100 refugees, including children, had died from diseases in the evacuation sites and the number of casualties is still rising due to lack of medical and emergency facilities there.
Salazar has appealed to citizens to support the government’s peace and development programs in an effort to build back better Zamboanga.
President Benigno Aquino visited Zamboanga City in December and accompanied by Salazar inspected the sports complex where thousands of refugees are staying.
He assured them of the government’s rehabilitation efforts, saying his administration is working closely with various agencies to rebuild houses destroyed during the war.
Aquino said the government already spent P273.8 million in relief aid and cash-for-work program for those displaced by the fighting while an additional P3.5 billion has been alloted for the rehabilitation efforts.