Mayor protests MNLF gathering in Zambo PDF Print E-mail
Friday, 14 July 2017 14:17

Mayor Beng Climaco has filed an urgent protest with the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) for the uncoordinated conduct of a gathering of members of the Moro National Liberation Front (MNLF)-Jikiri group at a local hotel in Zamboanga City from July 12-13.

This, as Mayor Climaco stands firm on the City Government’s policy disallowing any and all activities conducted by the MNLF and the MILF within the jurisdiction of the city following the September 2013 Zamboanga siege. The mayor has formally and verbally expressed this stand to the Office of the Presidential Adviser on the Peace Process (OPAPP).

In a letter dated July 11, 2017 and received by the mayor on July 12, Atty. Mohammad Al-Amin Julkipli informed the chief executive about the conduct of a consultation workshop on the Formulation of the Development Framework Plan for the MNLF-Jikiri group on July 12-13, 2017 at the Citi Inn Hotel.

In her reply the mayor protest the very short notice given to the city government on the matter. While the city of Zamboanga and its residents are one with the Duterte administration in seeking for a genuine, lasting and inclusive peace in Mindanao, the mayor said “nonetheless, we seek for your sensitivity in organizing said MNLF activity in the city.”

“You should have been sensitive and perceptive of the fact that the scars of the September 2013 “Zamboanga Siege” caused by the MNLF remain unhealed and fresh in the hearts and minds of Zamboanguenos,” the mayor said in her letter to Atty. Julkipli dated July 12 and copy furnished to OPAPP Secretary Atty. Jesus Dureza and UN Resident Coordinator Ola Almgren, who is also the UNDP Resident Representative.

Mayor Climaco said the presence of the MNLF, “regardless of any faction in the city poses an imminent danger and threat to our security, peace and order and tranquility” stressing that the city is also highly concerned about the safety of the participants of the workshop. “Given the past experience, their presence may spark tensions and create panic in the hearts of the residents.”

The mayor said it would have been “more sensitive and prudent on your part to have this activity conducted outside of the territorial jurisdiction of the city”, as she asked for the cancellation of the said activity.

Meanwhile, Sec. Dureza, upon of Mayor Climaco’s message immediately communicated with Bong Montesa, the UNDP team leader on Resilience and Peace Building expressing regrets that he had no prior knowledge about the activity otherwise he would have earlier advised the UNDP about the necessity of first consulting with the chief executive.

He said he was in Zamboanga City last June 12 for the Independence day celebration and “spent time talking not only with the city officials but  also with local sectoral leaders and some ordinary folks. They strongly expressed the need for more time for social healing caused by the moral wounds of that  Zamboanga incident some 3 years ago.”

Montesa for his part, apologized to Sec. Dureza and Mayor Climaco saying it was a “big inadvertence on our part to do the extra effort to communicate with the city government that we are supporting a socio-economic development consultation by the MNLF Jikiri Group to be held in Zamboanga.”

And in response to Mayor Climaco’s request, Montesa said,  and per consultation with the workshop participants, the MNLF Jikiri group agreed to end the activity by lunchtime (12noon)Thursday, July 13

He told Dureza tha he will call on Mayor Climaco the soonest possible time to personally express his apologies. (Sheila Covarrubias)