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MNLF asked to allow humanitarian aid to come in

Government troops take their positions as about 200 Muslim rebels, enraged by a broken peace deal with the Philippine government, held scores of hostages as human shields Tuesday Sept. 10, 2013 in a standoff with government forces for the second day with no solution in sight at the southern port city of Zamboanga, in southern Philippines. More battle-ready troops and police were flown to the southern port city of Zamboanga in a bid to end the crisis. (MNS photo)

Government troops take their positions as about 200 Muslim rebels, enraged by a broken peace deal with the Philippine government, held scores of hostages as human shields Tuesday Sept. 10, 2013 in a standoff with government forces for the second day with no solution in sight at the southern port city of Zamboanga, in southern Philippines. More battle-ready troops and police were flown to the southern port city of Zamboanga in a bid to end the crisis. (MNS photo)

MANILA, Sept 10 (Mabuhay) — Senator Nancy Binay asked the Moro National Liberation Front (MNLF) to allow humanitarian aid groups to enter controlled villages in Zamboanga City without fear of being killed.

She noted stores, pharmacies and commercial establishments have closed because of the siege that started early Monday.

“I appeal to the leadership of the MNLF, for humanitarian reasons, to allow those residing in the barangays under their control, access to food and other basic necessities,” she said.

She also asked the National Food Authority (NFA) and the Department of Health (DOH) to set up mobile centers there to distribute rice, sugar, milk, medicines, etc.

“Life has literally stopped in Zamboanga City. The national government must immediately ensure that the people of Zamboanga, especially those who have been displaced brought by the political tension, still have access to food and medicines. Immediate response from aid agencies like NFA and DOH is essential in providing the needed support in these times of conflict,” Binay said.

She also appealed to the MNLF to finally release the hostages, especially the children, the women and the sick.

Priests

Meanwhile, at least two Catholic priests have been trapped inside a church because of the siege.

In an interview with Radio Veritas, Zamboanga Archdiocese administrator Chris Manongas said one of the priests appealed for food and water.

He said several areas in the city have been cordoned off.

“We are not allowed to come inside and it is also very dangerous because the fighting is beside the church and they cannot get out anymore. I was able to speak to the parish priest there, and they were asking for help especially for food and water,” Manongas said.

He described the situation there as very tense and very dangerous.

“We still have a very tense situation. We are still monitoring the situation and at the same time we are trying to help the evacuees. We have thousands of evacuees already, may mga evacuees sa school at sa grandstand. Our social action staff will go there again to help the people,” he said.

He noted there was even a stampede yesterday as the people tried to get food from volunteers.

“All stores are closed , all banks are closed. You cannot buy anything, there are even no transportations running around. Everybody is afraid, it’s very dangerous. Patuloy naman ang pagtutok natin sa mga tao, sa cathedral may mga pamilya din tayong kinakalinga, we are feeding the evacuees,” he told Radio Veritas.(MNS)

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