Zambo mayor leads inspection in ‘ground zero’

ZAMBOANGA CITY, (PNA) – Mayor Ma. Isabelle Climaco-Salazar on Tuesday led members of the Crisis Management Committee (CMC) and other city officials in an ocular inspection of the conflict areas in four barangays, now commonly known as the “ground zero,” where nothing is virtually left of the once lively community except the ruins of the 20-day gun battle between the Moro National Liberation Front (MNLF) rebels and the government forces.

The inspection was in preparation of the Phase-In scheme, a term referring to the eventual return of homeowners, to be conducted by the CMC’s Technical Working Group (TWG) headed by City Administrator Antonio Orendain, Jr. with Housing Division Chief Rodrigo Pagotaisidro and City Assessor Erwin Bernardo heading the action team.

Early on, Salazar together with CMC members and ranking police and military officers first conducted a dialogue with the chairmen of the affected barangays of Sta. Catalina, Sta. Barbara, Kasanyangan, Rio Hondo and Mariki, explaining to them that residents of these villages cannot return as of yet, pending completion of the clearings operations.

Salazar explained that in as much as she and the city government really wanted the residents to return to whatever are left of their houses and places, however, there are processes and guidelines to be followed for security purposes and for orderly phase-in.

Salazar said the phase-in process should be done by schedule and by purok or block.

“We cannot allow the thousands of affected residents and homeowners to turn all at the same time. There must be schedules and it must be done per purok or block,” she reiterated.

But as to when the schedules will begin, the lady chief executive said, was something to be discussed in a meeting between Pagotaisidro and the barangay officials, wherein identification of house and property ownerships had to be established first.

After the dialogue at Sta. Catalina Barangay Hall, Salazar and party then walked through the ground zero starting from Sta. Catalina (at the back of barangay hall) towards Sitio Buguk, from there they convoyed to Sitio Lustre then Sta. Barbara, heading for Barangays Rio Hondo and Mariki.

From Mariki, the mayor’s convoy headed back to Sta. Barbara and Sta. Catalina to inspect Barangay Kasanyangan.

Present were Director Carmelo Valmoria, commander of Task Force Suyud; Col. Adrolino Colina, commander of Task Force Zamboanga; Chief Supt. Juanito Vaño, police regional office-9 director; and, Sr. Supt. Dennis Basngi, officer-in-charge of the Zamboanga City Police Office.

Also present were Vice Mayor Cesar Iturralde together with Councilors Myra Paz Abubakar, Percival Ramos, Rogelio Valesco, Jr., Miguel Alavar, Eduardo Saavedra, Melchor Rey Sadain and Rommel Agan, Orendain, Pagotaisidro, Bernardo, Fr. Sebastian D’Ambra, Fr. Albert Alejo and the respective barangay officials.