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Zamboanga Mayor appeals to end siege

Zamboanga City Mayor Beng Climaco has appealed to the Office of the Presidential Adviser on the Peace Process (OPAPP) on Wednesday “to address the demand and claims” of the Moro National Liberation Front (MNLF) members who attacked her city since Monday.

Cliamaco is calling for an end to the siege that alrady killed a number of people, displaced hundreds of civilians, and destroyed properties as gunfight between the bandits and soldiers continue.

She also made an appeal to MNLF to release the hostages while efforts for a negotiation “are ongoing.”

“We call on the hostage-takers to please release the hostages as our priority is the safety and protection of the Zamboangueno community,” she said on her official Facebook account.

MNLF Founding chairman Nur Misuari has said that his group MNLF has been left behind in the peace process between the Philippine government, which is reviewing the Framework Agreement on the Bangsamoro (FAB) with the Moro National Islamic Liberation Front.

But OPAPP Sec. Teresita Deles on Wednesday dismissed Misuari’s claim, branding it as “a willful misunderstanding and misrepresentation.”

In a press conference, Deles said that efforts have been done to continue the 1996 peace process pact with the MNLF, which had started its review since 2007.

“There have been many meetings and up to last week, a memorandum of agreement was signed by (ARMM Gov. Mujiv) Hataman and MNLF leaders,” she said.

Deles said that the FAB is not only for the benefit of the MILF but for the MNLF too.

“Bangsamoro Basic Law seeks to respond to aspirations of the entire Bangsamoro” she stressed.

She added that Misuari declined to attend when invited to nominate the members of FAB transition commission.

The battle between the MNLF and government forces in Zamboanga City is now on its third day and has paralyzed operations of public and private establishments.

According to Climaco, a total of 12,907 individuals, or 3,159 families, are now on evacuation centers as of 11:30 a.m. Wednesday due to the armed conflict that reportedly also involved the burning of houses by rebels in Sta. Barbara town.