Sept. 9 is Day of Infamy for Zambo — Lobregat PDF Print E-mail
Wednesday, 09 September 2015 11:25

by Jubels Santos

Exactly two years ago today on September 9, 2013, Zamboanga City came under siege that ended after more than three weeks of heavy fighting with some 300 people killed, dozens of houses razed and thousands of residents displaced.

Zamboanga City District 1 Representative Celso L. Lobregat, in a radio  interview, was asked to comment on the commemoration of the siege.and here is the congressman’s

reply: “It’s a day of infamy for Zamboanga City. “The day when Zamboanga City siege started, there’s nothing to celebrate. September 9, 2013 – this day and this episode is a painful, tragic and a dark side of Zamboanga City’s history.”

Lobregat further said that “perhaps it is best that our Muslim brothers go to the mosques and Christians go to churches to pray that this will never ever happen again.”

In the early morning of September 9, 2013, MNLF forces belonging to the Misuari faction and led by Habier Malik attacked Zamboanga City. They intended to march to city hall to raise the MNLF flag at the city’s seat of power. September 9 was a Monday then when the city government has its flag ceremony. For 21 days, the city was virtually paralyzed and held hostage. Zamboanga City was at a stand still. The people were in shock and in awe. People stayed in their houses, there was no school, stores were closed and so were the banks. All flights were cancelled and there were no boats leaving or arriving in the port of Zamboanga.

The result and aftermath: as of 8 am, September 26, 2013 – Evacuees and Displaced Persons: 101,018 total evacuees and 34 evacuation centers; Hostages: 178 taken hostage were released/rescued. Dead/Killed and Injured: Civilians (Death -12 and Injured -72), Soldiers/Policemen (Killed in Action – 21 and Wounded in Action – 179), MNLF (Killed – 119; Arrested – 186; Surrendered - 24) Two barangays namely Mariki and Rio Hondo were almost completely wiped out.

This was not the first time that Zamboanga City and its people were collateral damage to the peace negotiation because in November 2001, there was the Cabatangan hostage taking. Then the MNLF forces of Nur Misuari occupying the ARMM property in Barangay Cabatangan took hostages, many of them women and children, at gunpoint.

To date after two years of the Zamboanga City siege, most of the displaced persons are still in temporary relocation centers. The city and its people are still suffering from the physical, psychological and emotional pain, damage and hurt and trying to heal the wounds and rise up once more.

Earlier in an interview last Sunday, Lobregat said “I do not want to commemorate something that is tragic. It is a day of infamy for Zamboanga City.” — Jubels Santos