KORONADAL CITY (MindaNews/14 September)—With at least 60,000 displaced individuals as the standoff in Zamboanga City entered Day Six Saturday, President Benigno Aquino III told the evacuees that the situation “is getting closer to resolution.”
“Things are changing. From time to time… we are progressively reducing the possibility of wreaking havoc here in Zamboanga City, and we will end this in the soonest possible time,” Aquino said in a statement posted at the government’s website (www.gov.ph).
Aquino, who arrived in Zamboanga on Friday, visited Saturday morning the Joaquin F. Enriquez Sports Complex, where some 40,000 persons have sought refuge after clashes erupted Monday between government forces and Moro National Liberation Front (MNLF) members loyal to Nur Misuari.
The President assured that food and other supplies in the city would “last for at least two weeks.”
“I hope that you will not give up and that you will keep the faith; you are not alone in these times, and your government is truly focused on ensuring that all your needs are met,” Aquino said.
He noted the difficulty of feeding the evacuees sheltered at the sports complex.
“This is why, I must ask for your patience: here in the sports complex, there is an estimated 44,000 evacuees. The food that has to be cooked for all of you is here. As for the cooks—well, it is difficult to cook for 44,000. But we are working on this and dividing the labor. We are making complete sets so that it will not be difficult for anyone. Again, I ask for your patience: our work here is not easy, but if everyone cooperates, the burden that each one of us carries will be lessened,” he said.
In her Facebook page, Zamboanga City Mayor Maria Isabelle Climaco-Salazar said that 3,060 families or 13,343 individuals were sheltered in 25 other satellite evacuation centers as of 11 a.m. Saturday.
Based on Bulletin No. 3 issued by Malacanang earlier Saturday, the clashes have left nine persons dead—five government troops and four civilians—and 109 others wounded (46 government troops, 20 civilians and 43 MNLF members).
Nineteen MNLF members have so far surrendered, it added. (MindaNews)