Celso looks back at horror of 2013 siege Print
Monday, 10 September 2018 12:21

by DEXTER YAP

As we remember the 2013 Zamboanga siege five years ago and we try to move on, September 9, 2013 is a day of infamy for Zamboanga City, said Congressman Celso Lobregat while describing the conflict as a “painful, tragic and dark side of Zamboanga City’s history.”

“On July 31, 2013, forty-one days before the siege, this representation rose in the floor of the House of Representatives and delivered a privilege speech.

In that privilege speech I alerted: Nur Misuari “The founding chairman of the Moro National Liberation Front warned that the group may opt to declare an independent republic if Malacañang pushes with the closure of the GRP-MNLF 1996 Final Peace Accord to accommodate the Framework agreement for the Bangsamoro of the Moro Islamic Liberation Front,” Lobregat recalled.

Congressman Lobregat then also requested the Office of the Presidential Adviser on the Peace Process and the GPH negotiating panel to address issues brought about by Nur Misuari concerning the tripartite review process and the framework agreement on Bangsamoro with MILF.

Misuari eventually declared independence on August 12, 2013 and barely a month after, there was the Zamboanga siege.

For 21 days, the city was virtually paralyzed and held hostage. Zamboanga City was at a standstill. People were in shock and awe. People stayed inside their houses. There were no schools open. Stores were closed and so were the banks. All flights to and from Zamboanga were cancelled and there was not a single boat leaving nor arriving at the port of Zamboanga, Lobregat recalled.

During that infamous attack, some 101,018 evacuees and displaced persons trooped to 34 evacuation centers.

There were 178 hostages victimized,  at least 12 civilians killed and 72 wounded

Some 21 soldiers and policemen were killed in action and wounded, some 119 MNLF killed, 186 arrested and 24 surrendered based on records of the military, and two barangays, Mariki and Rio Hondo were almost completely wiped out.

“All things considered, the Zamboanga siege could have been prevented or at least could have ended earlier with less casualties and damages had authorities acted promptly and responded to the signs and warnings already present prior to the siege.  These  are lessons in our past where the city should learn, ” Lobregat said.

Yesterday a mass was held at a chapel in Martha Drive, Barangay Sta. Catalina that was attended by villagers affected by the 21-day siege staged by more than 400 Moro National Liberation Front (MNLF) rebels.

“The day when the Zamboanga City siege started, there’s nothing to celebrate. Sept. 9, 2013 – this day, this episode is a painful, tragic and dark side of Zamboanga City ’s history,“ Lobregat said.  (Dexter Yap)