ARMM OFFICIALS SAY War is savage, primitive PDF Print E-mail
Saturday, 05 October 2013 11:58

Use of guns in seeking redress is absolutely primitive and bloodshed only worsens animosity among parties to armed conflicts that unduly drags innocent non-combatants into the foray as an immediate consequence of savagery.

This was the common gist of the latest relief operation reports obtained by Zamboanga Times from 16 agencies of the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao participating in humanitarian missions for evacuees in Zamboanga City.

While the city is outside ARMM, a big number of the families displaced by the deadly three-week siege of several barangays in the area by members of the Moro National Liberation Front are from the autonomous region’s Basilan-Sulu-Tawi-Tawi (Basulta) area.

Juni Ilimin, regional undersecretary of the ARMM’s local government department, said the massive dislocation of villagers in Zamboanga City due to the three-week violent incursions by loyal followers of MNLF founder Nur Misuari was “a thousand-fold more horrible” than all of the displacements caused by armed conflicts in Basilan since the early 1970s up to this year’s most recent hostilities that rocked the island province..

Ilimin is an ethnic Yakan, who hails from Tipo-Tipo town in Basilan, which became a component province of ARMM when residents voted in favor of the inclusion of their communities into an expanded autonomous region during a plebiscite in 2001.

“We ought to thank the men and women, Muslims and Christians alike, helping the city government of Zamboanga attend to the needs of thousands that were driven away from their homes by a conflict that did not benefit any sector at all,” Ilimin said.

ARMM Gov. Mujiv Hataman on Thursday told reporters at a press briefing in Cotabato City that they are thankful to the Australian Agency for International Development and the United Nations High Commissioner on Refugees for supporting their relief missions in Zamboanga City.

“The biggest problem local officials and the national government will have to face now is the rebuilding of the communities destroyed by the conflict. President Aquino had already promised a development package amounting to more than P3 billion,” Hataman said.

The ARMM, through its Humanitarian Emergency Assistance Response Team (HEART), has been providing  medical and relief services to thousands of evacuees since fourth day of the three-week hostilities instigated by followers of Misuari led by Habier Malik.

Hataman said the HEART will continue with its relief works, to be led by Ilimin and the Regional Executive Secretary Laisa Alamia, even as the situation in Zamboanga City has started to return to normal.

Hataman said the inter-agency regional peace and order council will also initiate backchannel talks with leaders of groups loyal to Misuari to convince them not to join in any violent display of sentiments regarding the implementation of the September 2, 1996 government-MNLF peace accord.

Many MNLF members from Basilan have confirmed having been duped into going to Zamboanga City for a  peace rally, in exchange for P10,000 cash grant and a US-made M-4 assault rifle each from the “United Nations,” but ended up fighting government forces in the city instead.

“We even have now several MNLF members ready to talk about how they were virtually fooled and played around, in a `make believe scheme’ that turned very bloody and painful,” Hataman said.

Alamia, a practicing human rights lawyer, had recommended psycho-social counseling to members of the MNLF “Misuari Group” that decided to surrender after realizing they were unwittingly dragged into a conflict they would not have wanted to get involved with if they only knew its “real agenda” from the start..

Alamia said there are Islamic preachers that can be tapped to help in the spiritual rehabilitation of Misuari’s followers who immediately returned to their hometowns after sensing the “complicatedly stick situation” they were in and to those who decided to yield to authorities at the height of the armed confrontations of in Zamboanga City.