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11 September 2013

Roxas: MNLF hostages used as "Human Shields"

English: Universidad de Zamboanga - City Campus
English: Universidad de Zamboanga - City Campus (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
Secretary of the Interior and Local Government Mar Roxas today stressed that the primary mission of government forces stationed in Zamboanga City is to secure the safe release of hostages who are being used as “human shields” of armed men believed to be rogue elements of the Moro National Liberation Front (MNLF).
“Malinaw ang pangunahing misyon ng pamahalaan ngayon: gawin ang lahat ng paraan para hikayatin ang armadong grupo ng MNLF na palayain ang lahat ng mga residenteng bihag nila at ginagawang ‘human shield’ laban sa operasyon ng militar at pulis,” Roxas said.
“Hindi titigil ang operasyon ng pamahalaan hangga’t may natitirang residente na hawak ng armadong grupong ito,” he added.
The DILG Secretary disclosed that the local crisis management committee has received feelers from several individuals offering help in negotiating for the release of the hostages.
“Maraming natatanggap na feelers ang ating local crisis management committee at sinabi naman ng ating mga opisyal na bukas sila sa pakikipag-usap. Ang kailangan lang alamin, may kontak ba talaga ang mga feelers na ito sa mga lider ng armadong grupo at may authority ba sila para makipag-usap?” he said.
Roxas maintained that the government would demand the unconditional release of all hostages in case the leaders of the armed group pushes agree to talk with the local crisis management committee.
“Malinaw ang posisyon ng pamahalaan: gusto nating palayain ang lahat ng mga bihag at mailigtas sa kapahamakan ang mamamayan ng Zamboanga City,” he pointed out.
At present, Roxas said government officials are working with local executives and community leaders to ensure the evacuation to safer grounds of city residents who are caught in the crossfire between security forces and MNLF rebels.
“Nagtulong-tulong ang lahat sa komunidad para mailikas sa ligtas na lugar ang maraming bilang ng mamamayan na direktang apektado ng paglusob ng armadong grupo ng MNLF,” he pointed out.
City officials, he said, are in close coordination with field personnel of the Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD) and the Department of Health (DOH) to make sure that the evacuated residents are protected and well taken care of.
“Binibigyan natin sila [evacuees] ng lugar na matutulugan, sapat na pagkain, at gamot para sa mga may karamdaman. Tiniyak din ng pamahalaan na may sapat na puwersa para pangalagaan ang kanilang seguridad laban sa anumang banta ng karahasan,” the DILG chief said.
Roxas and Secretary of Defense Voltaire Gazmin are still in Zamboanga City to monitor the city government’s response to the ongoing crisis.
Roxas explained that government forces are now focusing on “saving as many lives as possible” after they successfully thwarted the attempt of MNLF rebels to take over vital installations in Zamboanga City.
“Matagumpay na nanindigan ang puwersa ng pamahalaan para ipagtanggol ang Zamboanga City laban sa armadong grupo ng MNLF na nagtangkang sakupin ang sentro ng pamamahala sa lungsod [City Hall] at maghasik ng karahasan sa mamamayan,” the DILG chief pointed out.
“Maagap ring umaksiyon ang lokal na pamahalaan, katulong ang AFP at PNP, para pigilan ang paglusob ng MNLF sa sentro ng kalakalan sa siyudad. Dahil dito, napigilan ang masamang balak ng MNLF na ipailalim sa kanilang kontrol ang mahahalagang instalasyon ng pamahalaan at komersiyo sa loob ng Zamboanga City,” he added.
 Roxas noted that the military and police are working hand-in-hand to flush out the remaining armed groups who are determined to put our countrymen in harm’s way, as in four of the 98 barangays in Zamboanga City.
“Sisiguruhin ng militar at pulis na mapapaalis ang mga armadong grupo sa natitirang apat na barangay na ginagalawan nila. Aarestuhin ang sinumang armado na maghahasik ng takot sa mga lugar na ito. Hahalughugin ang bawat bahay at titiyakin na ligtas sa kapahamakan ang bawat pamilyang nakatira rito,” he stressed.
Roxas said the government would also see to it that all those responsible for the foiled siege on Zamboanga would be meted punishment in accordance with the law.
“Papanagutin din sa batas ang lahat ng may kaugnayan sa pagkamatay at pagkasugat ng mga taong naipit sa kaguluhan. Walang lugar na pagtataguan ang mga kriminal na ito. Tutugisin natin sila kahit saan sila magsuot,” he said.