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Public to Binay: what ceasefire?

What ceasefire? This was immediately the question that some people, particularly those from Zamboanga, asked online when they learned of the news of a truce in their war-torn province.

Manila Bulletin, ceasefire, Mindanao, Zamboanga, Binay, Aquino, Nur Misuari, Philippines

Vice President Jejomar Binay announced that there is an agreement between Defense Sec. Voltaire Gazmin and MNLF leader Nur Misuari for a ceasefire. The public, however, is doubtful.

The announcement made by Vice President Jejomar Binay that leaders of the government and the Moro rebels have agreed to a ceasefire starting at 12 a.m. Saturday in Zamboanga was met with skepticism by the public.

In an interview with the TV news program Saksi over GMA 7 before midnight, Binay said Defense Secretary Voltaire Gazmin and Moro National Liberation Front (MNLF) chairman Nur Misuari have “agreed in principle for a peaceful settlement” of the conflict in Zamboanga City. The agreement also effectively resulted in a ceasefire.

But people who are actually living near the conflict areas immediately commented online to contradict Binay’s news of a truce. They said fighting continues even at dawn of Saturday.

Facebook user Ryan Michael Mercado said: “Hindi po ata alam ng MNLF ang tunay na kahulugan ng ceasefire. Akala ata nila hanggang 12 lang yung ceasefire. [It seems the MNLF doesn't know the true meaning of ceasefire. They probably think it's only up to 12:00 midnight.] I’m from Zamboanga and I can still hear gunfire.”

His observation was echoed by Francisco Rojas Bustamante who posted: “It is not true. From my room, starting at 1 a.m., at the Ateneo campus I could hear gunfires and combat helicopters circling (above). It’s 2:30 a.m. and I still hear gunfires and helicopters circling. So where is the ceasefire? Words, words, words. Shall I say, “Tell that to the Marines?”

Mark Aba Halayah, another Facebook user, belied the alleged ceasefire and said: “May putukan pang nagaganap hanggang ngayon [There's still gunfire up to now],”!

Other comments online questioned why the Vice President seems to have suddenly taken an active role in the negotiations, hours after President Benigno Aquino made a personal trip to Zamboanga Friday morning to check on the situation.

Binay said the ceasefire is on a testing period and that he does not know if the President has been informed of the development.