Choppers bomb rebel positions to pressure group to surrender PDF Print E-mail
Monday, 23 September 2013 11:31

PAF MG-520 attack helicopters bombed MNLF positions yesterday afternoon in a bid to pressure the remaining Misuari loyalists to release some 20 hostages and surrender peacefully as the Zamboanga City crisis entered its 14th day.

Armed Forces Spokesman Lt. Col. Ramon Zagala said the remaining rebels numbering some 40 are in control of a very small area in Sta. Barbara, Sta. Catalina and  Rio Hondo that is surrounded by security forces.

Zagala told newsmen that the military is sure the remaining rebels are led by Habier Malik.

Another new approach used by the government to let the MNLF gunmen surrender was through flyers that were rained in the conflict areas

Lt. Col. Ramon Zagala on Saturday said that government security forces have killed five more MNLF gunmen.

“There were five more of the enemy killed. This brings to 102 the number of enemies killed,” he added.”We’re doing house to house search operations and their area of operation has become smaller,” he said.

Zagala said the entire AFP remains committed to “press on the fight and finish the crisis at the soonest possible time” so that peace can return to Zamboanga City.

The government in past days had since retaken most of the MNLF-controlled areas.

He said that soldiers are engaged in close-quarter fighting with remnants of Misuari’s followers.

Meanwhile, the Department of Education (DepEd) is preparing for the opening of classes in Zamboanga City as soon as the Crisis Management Committee declared it safe.

Education Sec. Armin Luistro said in a statement on Saturday that they are prepping division personnel, principals and teachers in Zamboanga and will assess schools and students before resuming classes.

“Based on our assessment 80% of public schools can resume classes,” he added.

The department added that 13 out of 205 public schools are used as evacuation centers.

“According to DepEd division officials, 167 schools can already resume classes next week as long as they are given 24 hours’ notice by the Crisis Management Committee,” it added.

Luistro said that students and teachers need psychosocial intervention and debriefing.

He stressed that on the first day of school, teachers need to conduct a headcount of their students, as well as assess if they needed intervention,

“The following days should also be devoted to planning by the principals to organize make-up classes. There will be no regular lessons yet,” he added.

Rizalino Rivera, DepEd Undersecretary for Regional Operations, said that the organization is ready to resume with a day’s notice.

“We have 253 personnel trained on psychosocial intervention. Just last month, however, 53 of them were directly affected so we need to debrief them first. We’ll also tap volunteers from other regions to assist,” he explained.

He said the department will have temporary learning spaces in non-school evacuation centers.

He added there are about 12,000 affected students in Zamboanga who will have to undergo Alternative Delivery Modes (ADM), a non-traditional means of learning, for the next three months.

In another development, City Hall announced yesterday that curfew hours are still in effect from 8 p.m. to 5 a.m..

The City Hall advisory said that classes in private and public schools outside the “areas of concern”  will resume on Sept. 25. But school officials will report Sept. 23-24 for organizational meeting in preparation for class resumption.

Barangay tanods and other force multipliers are urged to take active role in securing the community particularly the schools.

For City Hall workers, only those providing frontline services are required to report today, Monday/