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Civil groups seek humanitarian ceasefire in Zamboanga

DAVAO CITY – Civil society organizations in Mindanao, headed by the Initiatives for International Dialogue (IID) have called on Malacañang and the Office of the Presidential Assistant for the Peace Process (OPAPP) for the immediate declaration of humanitarian ceasefire in Zamboanga City for the sake of the thousands of displaced civilians caught in the crossfire between government soldiers and Moro rebels.

Zamboanga, MNLF, IOC, DSWD, Manila Bulletin, humanitarian aid

Residents camp out at a stadium following the current standoff between Government troopers and Muslim rebels Wednesday, Sept. 11, 2013 at the southern port city of Zamboanga in southern Philippines. Muslim rebels holding scores of hostages in the southern Philippines are demanding international mediation, an official said Wednesday, as fresh rounds of fire broke out between government troops and the guerrillas on the third day of the standoff. The rebels, enraged by a broken peace deal with the government, are holding the civilian hostages as human shields near Zamboanga. Troops have surrounded the Moro National Liberation Front guerrillas and their hostages in four coastal villages. (AP Photo/Bullit Marquez)

In a statement, IID together with the Mindanao People’s Caucus, the Alliance of Progressive Labor in Davao Region, Peace Builders Community and the SIMCARRD Inc. have expressed their deepest expressions of concern, prayers and support for the innocent civilians in Zamboanga City.

They also extend their deep condolences to the families of the military, police and MNLF fighters killed during the incident.

“We hope and pray that this matter is resolved quickly, justly and peaceably, and that equanimity prevails in the restoration of peace and order in Zamboanga City and its surrounds”, the civil groups said.

The group also appealed for patience and consistency in finding ways to establish structured opportunities to include other stakeholders in the peace process.

The standoff in Zamboanga, they added, is an indication of the imperfections of the on-going peace process but remain encouraged that the government and Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) panels have expressed trust, confidence and support in going towards the 40th round of exploratory talks.

The group called to the warring forces to delineate a humanitarian corridor so that social welfare agencies involved in humanitarian work can safely assist the displaced civilians. They also pressed for immediate dialogue between the conflicting parties to allow sufficient space for peaceful negotiations and for the government and the OPAPP to translate its policy in addressing the fate of the MNLF peace process and their legitimate issues.

Finally, the civil groups made an appeal to the OIC to intervene in resolving the Zamboanga crisis.