Tawi-Tawi folks stranded in ZC returns to Bongao PDF Print E-mail
Friday, 27 September 2013 12:48

Provincial officials facilitated Wednesday night the return by boat to Tawi-Tawi of  hundreds of  traveling residents stranded in Zamboanga City since September 9.

The watercraft that ferried the stranded travelers was chartered by the office of the Tawi-Tawi governor and the congressional representative of the island province, Hadja Ruby Sahali.

It took Sahali and her younger Sibling, Tawi-Tawi Gov. Nurbert Sahali, more than a week to negotiate for a voyage clearance from authorities, owing to security concerns, such as the possibility that followers of Nur Misuari could blend with stranded Tawi-Tawi folks and avail of the free boat ride to escape from Zamboaga City.

The police and the military were also apprehensive followers of Misuari can attack the boat while sailing to Bongao, the capital of the island province, passing along islands where there are enclaves of the Moro National Liberation Front.

Sahali said the boat passengers were thankful to Interior and Local Government Secretary Mar Roxas, the Philippine Navy, the Philippine Coastguard and  the Armed Forces’s Western Mindanao Command, for providing security and permit for the voyage.

The boat was supposed to leave for Bongao, the port capital of Tawi-Tawi last week yet, but was prevented by authorities for security reasons.

A total of 550 passengers have initially been allowed to avail of the free boat ride to Tawi-Tawi, according to the ARMM’s Regional Ports Management Authority.

Sahali had earlier asked the central office of the Department of Interior and Local Government and the AFP to lift the ban since September 10 on commercial sea voyages connecting Tawi-Tawi and Zamboanga City.

“The effect of the temporary suspension of inter-island voyages to Taw-Tawi’s economy is so adverse. We have not even reeled off from the adverse impact of the past Sabah crisis to our economy and here we are again, suffering from another conflict that our very own people are not even involved,” Sahali said.