ZAMBOANGA CITY(MindaNews/25 November)—A memorial day is set on December 2 to “bring a closure” to the Zamboanga City siege, Mayor Maria Isabelle ‘Beng’ Climaco-Salazar said.
“This day is for those who risked and lost their lives during the 23-day siege in Zamboanga City,” she added.
The Zamboanga siege came after Moro National Liberation Front members loyal to founding chair Nur Misuari occupied some coastal towns last September 9.
Climaco told MindaNews last Saturday that the city’s peace and security condition will be among the city government’s top priorities as it conducts programs on rehabilitation and reconstruction at a time when the city is still amidst a post-conflict humanitarian crisis.
While expressing gratitude for the national government’s P3.9 billion support fund, Climaco admitted that such appropriation is “not enough for the rehabilitation, to build back homes.”
She pointed out that tens of thousands of internally displaced persons (IDPs) are still temporarily sheltered in evacuation centers, majority of them at the Joaquin Enriquez Memorial Sports Complex.
“They (IDPs) want to go back to their homes in Mariki, in Rio Hondo and in Sta. Barbara,” Climaco said.
According to the mayor, Public Works and Highways Secretary Rogelio Singson earlier estimated “that Zamboanga’s damage in infrastructure was worse than that suffered by Bohol.”
“The damage on infrastructure in Bohol is on roads. The earthquake that hit Bohol brought Catholic churches in ruins. Churches are not under the government,” she pointed out.
Meanwhile, Sheila Covarrubias, city information officer, said that Zamboanga continues to prepare for “full swing rehabilitation” with the conduct of community assessments in the conflict-affected communities of Rio Hondo, Mariki, Sta. Catalina, Talon-Talon and Sta. Barbara.
An inter-agency partnership has been forged across government and non-government organizations to battle the humanitarian crisis.
These include the Department of Education, Darul Ifta or the respected group of Islam leaders in the affected villages, United States Agency for International Development, United Nations’ World Food Program and Tzu Chi Foundation.
Climaco also announced the launch of “Build Back Better Zamboanga” on December 3.
“It’s time for us to move on,” she said. (Frencie Carreon/MindaNews)