MANILA, (PNA) –There is no need to declare a state of emergency yet in Zamboanga City following a standoff between government forces and the armed faction group of Moro National Liberation Front (MNLF)led by its founding chairman Nur Misuari, said President Benigno Aquino III on Tuesday.
The President also does not see an escalation of hostilities in the affected coastal barangays in Zamboanga City as more forces have been deployed to secure and restore peace and order in the area.
“At this time, wala pa [declaration of state of emergency]… wala tayo expectations so far na magkakaroon ng dagdag na tensiyon ngayong araw na ‘to,” Aquino said at a press briefing at the Raffles Fairmont Hotel in Makati City where he was the keynote speaker in the 7th ASEAN Navy chiefs meeting.
“Kahapon adequate ang forces natin sa loob ng Zamboanga City. Palagay ko ngayon overwhelming na. Marami tayo ini-airlift na mga tropa, kasama na ang mga elite forces. Ang pagkakaintindi ko medyo kalmado ang sitwasyon,” he added.
Aquino is getting updates on the situation in the south from Interior Secretary Mar Roxas whom he sent there to assess the situation, together with Defense Secretary Voltaire Gazmin.
Aquino said he had issued orders to ensure the safety of civilians and to leave the tactical approaches to end the standoff to ground commanders.
“Wala po nagbibigay ng deadline kung ang pakay natin ay masigurado na walang madamay o masugatan o mapatay na civilian so iiwan natin ang tactical decision sa tactical commanders,” he said.
At least 200 armed followers of Misuari-led MNLF faction stormed the coastal barangays of Talon Talon, Mariki, Sta. Catalina, Sta Barbara and Rio Hondo early Monday morning to declare Bangsamoro independence.
Three persons, including two civilians, were killed in the attack while 20 residents were taken hostage.