ATENEO DE ZAMBOANGA UNIVERSITY STATEMENT
A STATEMENT ON THE MNLF-MISUARI FACTION “ATTACK” IN ZAMBOANGA CITY
We strongly condemn the recent hostage-taking in Zamboanga City by a faction of the Moro National Liberation Front (MNLF) in a desperate attempt apparently to pursue independence. This act has instilled fear among those deprived of freedom of movement, displaced thousands of residents from five barangays, disrupted the livelihood of hundreds of families, damaged properties, seriously affected regular classes, work and businesses, and isolated the city with the cancellation of land, sea and air trips.
How we wish the hostage-takers would see the thousands of evacuees who are now seeking shelter in the City Grand Stand! See the disruption of nearby hospitals that had to transfer their patients to safer covered courts, the children and even the pregnant women who until now are traumatized by the cowardly act of these lawless elements. Add to this is the use of human shield in order to move around—this is a crime against humanity.
Yes, we understand that the Framework Agreement on the Bangsamoro (FAB) signed by the Philippine Government and the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) might have caused misunderstanding, confusion and demoralization among some leaders of the MNLF. We believe, however, that there are open lines and legitimate ways of resolving the conflict and completing the implementation of the MNLF Peace Agreement. And so we call upon the authorities concerned to effectively address the issues raised by the MNLF. We call on both the Government and the MILF to craft a more inclusive Bangsamoro Basic Law.
As we write this message, we salute the City Government for its leadership in handling the crisis situation and for its compassion for the displaced persons. We thank the support by the police and the military as well as the intervention of the civil society and the national government. We mourn the death of all those killed on both sides of the encounter. Of course, we are aware of the glitches that went with the demands of quick action and lack of complete information. We promise to sustain our partnership with various sectors and institutions, especially in terms of humanitarian work for the displaced families and of the sincere search for long term solution to this situation of unpeace.
Despite all this disruption, let the peace talks continue! Don’t let this hostage-taking hostage the whole peace process. And let Zamboanga City rise from the ashes! More than any other time, let all sectors of society combine our gifts to support the birth of a new City of Zamboanga.
May Nuestra Senora La Virgen del Pilar intercede in our fervent prayers to bless our leaders with courage, faith, and strength? We also pray for enlightenment of the rebels and for peace here in our beloved City and in other troubled parts of the country.