Sta. Catalina branded as MILF community PDF Print E-mail
Friday, 13 March 2015 12:00

The Barangay Council of Sta. Catalina under the leadership of its young and decisive Chairman Jimmy B. Villaflores yesterday passed a resolution expressing  strong objection to the branding of Barangay Sta. Catalina as one of the “MILF Communities” in Zamboanga City as stated in the letter of Senen C. Bacani, a member of the Government Peace Negotiating Panel in the peace talk twith the Moro Islamic Liberation Front dated March 4, 2015 which was addressed to Zamboanga City Mayor Maria Isabelle “Beng” Climaco.

Also in the resolution, the Sanggunian Barangay urgently asks OPAPP to furnish the Barangay Council of Sta. Catalina the data and other related information relative to the survey they conducted (if there was) as their basis for them to declare or name the entire community as “MILF Community.”

In a hastily called special session, Villaflores presented to the members of the august body the letter signed by Mr. Bacani addressed to Mayor Climaco stating among others the program of the so called Sajahatra Bangsamoro Program (SBP) which was accordingly approved by President Aquino and  Chairman Al-Haj Murad Ebrahim of the MILF.

The letter explained that SBP commits to deliver health, education and livelihood services to priority MILF communities and targeted individual beneficiaries that focus on quick gestation, high impact and social protection type of programs. For the Cash-for-work program, its implementation is in partnership with the Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD) and the MILF Project Management Team (PMT).

During deliberation, Kagawad Boy Arabi commented that the branding of the barangay as MILF Community might give a negative impression to the business sector in the community considering the involvement of the MILF and the BIFF in the recent Mamasapano incident in Maguindanao.

Chairman Villaflores said the Barangay Government welcomes any help coming from the government and from NGOs for the IDPs and indigent Muslim families but “we strongly oppose branding us as a MILF Community.”

Villaflores, a broadcast and print journalist turned barangay chairman said that when he assumed office in December 2013, no one from among the members of OPAPP and MILF Panel came to him and discussed about the SBP.

He said that no papers or documents were presented to the Barangay in 2013 proving the existence of the MILF group in the community.

“Personally, I have not heard of anybody from our community who claimed to be a member of MILF.  There may be few of silent sympathizers or supporters staying in our place but this could not be a basis for the OPAPP to declare our place as MILF Community,” Villaflores said.

Villaflores further explained that Muslims and Christians are living harmoniously in Sta. Catalina but the tranquillity of the place was shattered by the infamous siege in September 2013.

“We all want for peace. The only solution for us to have a lasting peace is that for the Christians to accept the culture and traditions of the Muslims and for the Muslims to do the same. We welcome assistance through cash-for-work program, but please don’t name us MILF Community,” Villaflores appealed.

Copies of the Sta. Catalina resolution will be furnished the Office of the Presidential Advisers on the Peace Process (OPAPP), Office of the Representatives of the 1st and 2nd District of Zamboanga City (Congressman Celso Lobregat and Congresswoman Lilia M. Nuño respectively), Zamboanga City Mayor Maria Isabelle Climaco and Sangguniang Panlungsod of Zamboanga City.