MANILA, (PNA) — Despite the stand-off between the military and members of the Moro National Liberation Front (MNLF), Zamboanga Mayor Isabelle “Beng” Climaco-Salazar urged her constituents to remain united and strong.
“In this time of crisis, I call on all our people to remain united and strong. Our faith as a people is unshakeable. This is not an issue of religion for we have co-existed peacefully and worked harmoniously,” she said in her statement which was posted in her Facebook account.
Climaco-Salazar also called the attack against her city an act of misguided people.
“This is an issue of people with misguided principles using arms to propel their ideology. This conflict has shown how galvanized and united we are as a city. Together we can rise up from this climate of fear and doubt and come out better Zamboanguenos and a more peaceful Zamboanga that we all hope for,” she stressed.
“Six days after the spate of incidents in our beloved Zamboanga City–innocent lives have been lost, properties have been damaged and our economy paralyzed. The image of Zamboanga, which we painstakingly tried to restore, was instantly vanished because of this senseless acts perpetrated by a group of misguided elements,” Climaco-Salazar pointed out.
She added that affected barangays remain barricaded and the entire city is virtually isolated from the world as airports and seaports are closed, classes as well as work in all offices, except for agencies rendering frontline services remain suspended; forced evacuation is imposed on residents in the areas of concern; and the number of evacuation centers and evacuees are continuously mounting.
“Our heart goes out to the hapless hostages who are in distress fearing for their safety, just as we also sympathize with the families of those soldiers, policemen and innocent civilians who perished and who were wounded in the course of the conflict,” the Zamboanga mayor stressed.
She added that right from the start of the crisis, the Zamboanga City leadership has shown decisive leadership.
“We have not stopped listening to your concerns and we have not succumbed to complacency. The measures we have taken were all in respect to agreements, rules of engagement, and ultimately to save and protect lives. Our police and military authorities continue to safeguard our territories and our people through confidence-building measures with calibrated military actions. We continue to support all their efforts and we thank them and their families for their selflessness and dedication to their duties. To the business community, banking institutions and all other sectors concerned, thank you for helping us in providing essential services despite the very tensed situation,” Climaco-Salazar concluded.