Outgoing Wesmincom deputy salutes Climaco (Bares the untold story of 2013 siege) PDF Print E-mail
Wednesday, 02 September 2015 11:06

by Vic Larato

Many things have already been said and done about the Zamboanga siege in September 2013, but for a retiring deputy commander of the Western Mindanao Command there is one side of the infamy that has never been told yet.

Now it can be told.

Brig. Gen. Orlando de Leon, who is due to retire from military service early this month, admitted Monday night he was the one who ordered government forces to engage the attackers in close quarter battle to save Zamboanga City from total ruin.

During the early days of the siege that broke out at dawn on Sept. 9, General De Leon recalled, he met Mayor Beng Climaco at the central police station, while trying to find ways to put an end to the siege the earliest possible time.

“It was then that I told Mayor Beng the military action was the only option available at the time to repulse the attackers. The mayor backed me up and told me to do what was right for Zamboanga,” de Leon recalled during the testimonial dinner tendered for him by the city government Monday.

“Decisions had to be made no matter how tough they seemed and Mayor Beng did it. That was the most inspiring and motivating of her as chief executive of the city,” de Leon further said.

“Otherwise, had it not for those tough decisions,” he added, “Zamboanga City would have been taken over by the rebels.”

He said at the height of the heavy fighting between government forces and the Moro National Liberation Front (MNLF) rebels “there was only one mayor, one commander, one commander-in-chief and one decision, whether right or wrong, for one Zamboanga.”

According to de Leon, many awards were given to him after the siege.

“But the one I personally accept and precious to me is the Plaque of Appreciation from the city government of Zamboanga through Mayor Beng,” said the outgoing military general, who hails from Bicol and has spent almost half of his career in Zamboanga. — Vic Larato