MANILA (Mabuhay) — A Malacañang spokesperson on Friday reiterated that Moro National Liberation Front fighters loyal to Nur Misuari have no other choice but to surrender to government forces in Zamboanga.
“Katulad ng sinabi ng Pangulong Aquino, ang natitirang paraan para sa grupo ni Misuari sa Zamboanga ay sumuko, sapagkat patuloy ang clearing operations doon upang masigurong wala ng matitirang banta sa mga residente doon mula sa Misuari faction,” Deputy presidential spokesperson Abigail Valte said.
President Aquino on Thursday said fighting between Philippine forces and MNLF rebels in Zamboanga City has been confined to just two areas and should be over soon.
More than 100 people have been killed and about 112,000 displaced in 11 days of fighting with the rebels from a breakaway faction of the Moro National Liberation Front (MNLF).
Aqunio, who has been in Zamboanga overseeing the offensive and relief efforts for the displaced since last Friday, said only 20 civilian hostages were still in the hands of the rebels and fighting had been contained in two areas
“I don’t expect this to take too long,” Aquino told a news conference in his first public appearance since Saturday.
The army said only 70 rebels were holding out after about 100 had either surrendered or been captured, and 86 had been killed.
The violence has had no impact on Manila’s financial markets but it could make potential investors think twice before venturing into the poor but resource-rich south, which has untapped deposits of oil, gas and minerals.
Zamboanga was coming back to life on Thursday with some banks and shops opening. Two flights, one with only 18 passengers, from Manila landed at the city’s airport.
Aquino said he would stay in the city until the crisis was over, and promised a 3.89 billion pesos ($90 million) reconstruction fund. Hundreds of houses and buildings were destroyed in the fighting.
The government was determined to bring peace to the south and would talk with all MNLF factions, including the group blamed for the Zamboanga violence, Aquino said.
“We will sit down with those who want peace, but, we will not allow those who want to sow violence,” he said. (MNS)