City Hall re-opens after three-week standoff : Flag flown at half mast PDF Print E-mail
Tuesday, 01 October 2013 11:32

City Hall re-opened and resumed operations yesterday as Mayor Beng Climaco declared the crisis is over.

Climaco said they have decided to re-open the city government offices following a meeting with security officials Sunday.

Instead of flag raising ceremony, Salazar led the lowering of the Philippine flag at half mast in honor of the fallen soldiers who defended this city as well as civilians either killed by the rebels or felled by bullets in the crossfire.

The Philippine flag was hoisted at the City Hall’s flagpole since the first day of the standoff.

Climaco said humanitarian efforts are still ongoing and the city is now in the recovery stage after three weeks of fighting between government forces and Misuari led MNLF rebels who laid siege to six villages inZamboanga City.

The mayor led the City Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Council joining hands with top military and police officials in singing “Zamboanga Hermosa,” the city’s anthem.

Climaco said only city government offices located at the City Hall main and annex as well as those outside the critical areas were opened for transaction.

Salazar advised employees whose offices are located in Pettit Barracks area to contact with their heads of offices for work assignments.

The city government offices located in Pettit Barracks, which is the village of Zone IV, are the City Health Office, City Social Welfare and Development Office, City Civil Registrar, and City Veterinarian’s Office.

Several business establishments in the downtown commercial district opened their doors to customers, but under tight security.

The met with police and military officials in City Hall after leading the lowering of the flag to half mast.

Twenty-three troops—18 soldiers and five policemen—were killed while 194 others—179 soldiers and 15 police—were wounded in the standoff that started last September 9

Twelve civilians were killed while 72 others were wounded in the standoff.

Meanwhile, the Crisis Management Committee (CMC) has shortened the curfew hours from nine to six hours effective Sunday night.

Mayor Beng Climaco, who chairs the CMC, said the decision was arrived at following security briefing with the police and military authorities concerning the prevailing peace and order condition in this city.

Salazar said the curfew hours outside the critical areas and areas of concern will be from 10 p.m. to 4 a.m., which is shorter than three hours from the original schedule of 8 p.m. to 5 a.m.

Salazar said the nine-hour curfew, which is from 8 p.m. to 5 a.m., will continue in the critical and areas of concerns.

The CMC has implemented the nine-hour curfew since the start of the standoff last September 9 when hundreds of Moro National Liberation Front (MNLF) rebels infiltrated this city.

The critical areas are the following barangays: Zone 4; Sta. Catalina; Sta. Barbara; Rio Hondo; Mariki; Kasanyangan; Talon-Talon; Mampang; Arena Blanco; and, Tugbungan.

“These areas of concern are those adjacent to critical areas with high possibility of threat spillover,” Salazar explained.

Government forces are still conducting clearing operations in the critical and areas of concerns.

In another development, Judges in Zamboanga City, whose work had been disrupted by weeks of fighting cannot go back to their salas just yet.

Court Administrator Midas Marquez, who supervises all lower courts in the country, said the Zamboanga City Hall of Justice (HoJ) still has no electricity.

“Judges are not yet cleared to go except to check the HoJ for a while under escort,” Marquez said.

He said judges dropping by the hall of justice would simply be inspecting the building and will be coming up with their report later on.

Marquez said the judges are also checking on their employees to determine who among them had been affected by the armed fighting. “Judges are also doing a headcount of personnel. Baka may mga missing,” he said.

He said the local courts in the city are currently holding offices at the city library “to address inquiries from some litigants.”

Several weeks ago, work in all courts in Zamboanga City were suspended following the standoff between government forces and MNLF rebels.