Watch out for ASG spill over in Zambo PDF Print E-mail
Thursday, 01 September 2016 12:08

Table Talk

BY Mike S Apostol

The ongoing all-out military operation against the Abu Sayyaf  Group (ASG) in Jolo, Sulu and Basilan, where the Armed Forces is relentlessly pursuing fighters of the ISIS-affiliated group, could provoke a spillover of violence to Zamboanga City that may be carried out by the group. The possibility is great because, it is only in Zamboanga City, where finger wharves of “kumpits” or pumpboats exist in almost all shoreline barangays from the East to the West Coast. . These existing finger wharves in the city are also allegedly used for other illegal activities like smuggling of rice, cigarettes and other commodities, including human trafficking or illegal recruitment for jobs abroad.

* * * * * *

Almost three years ago when the Moro National Liberation Front (MNLF) laid siege to the city that wreaked havoc and brought destruction to lives and propertiesy, they arrived in the city via those finger wharves in some shoreline barangays. This can still happen since not all of those finger wharves are under the control of authorities. Blocking the sea entrance to Zamboanga City is not a guarantee for a zero “spillover” because our seashores are vast and not every part of can be guarded perfectly even with the most sophisticated radars in our modern navy boats. The best defense of the city against lawless intrusion is watch all finger wharves and the shorelines in our city.

* * * * * *

Many families from Jolo, Sulu are now in many neighborhoods of the city, seeking refuge from the ongoing operations against the ASG. They evacuated to Zamboanga City because they say “they can feel the heat of the operation and as a precaution, left their homes for fear that escaping  ASG might make them “human shields”. These are stories of peaceful Tausug families from Jolo, Sulu, who are also against the existence of the ASG in their area.

* * * * * *

Perhaps it is better and advisable if all barangays in the city with the leadership of barangay officials to recruit volunteers as tempoarary “ citizen guards” or “tanods” in their neighborhood while the operation against the ASG is still ongoing. Barangay residents must help in protecting their communities since most of our soldiers and policemen are on mission in Jolo, Sulu. The police and military authorities must temporarily allow barangay citizens to carry  their licensed firearms if they are on volunteer duty. So far this is the best option for neighborhood defense and protection at the moment. City Government officials must lead the way in protecting our neighborhoods and communities as an assistance to our authorities. Perhaps a Council resolution to that effect is the most appropriate action at these precarious times.

* * * * * *

Scoop: Overheard talking the other night: Aa middle aged Tausug wife who just arrived from Jolo, Sulu and talking casually with some neighborhood housewives at the corner store in our subdivision, said that there are allegedly plenty of ASG members already inside Zamboanga City, escaping from the operation of the military in Jolo and Basilan. This bit of information although “raw” is alarming and should be verified by our police and military authorities. Zamboanga City was already caught off-guard by the MNLF two years ago. The MNLF siege experience for Zamboanga City should not be repeated now, with President Rodrigo Roa Duterte. Agree or Disagree.