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.
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.