Tuesday, 17 September 2013 00:00
The burning of hundreds of houses, the dislocation and evacuation of several thousands of people and the death of civilians, military and police personnel in the seven (7) days siege of Zamboanga City from Monday to Friday (September 9, 10, 11, 12, 13, 14 and 15, 2013) could have been avoided had there been a peace dialogue conducted.
It could have been initiated by the local officials and local authorities’ representatives and the local commanders of the MNLF who landed at dawn of September 9, 2013 at the coastal areas of Santa Barbara and Santa Catalina, Zamboanga City.
The primary purpose of the peace dialogue is to appease and prevent the MNLF (Misuari faction) from creating disturbances in Zamboanga City.
It was known that the MNLF Misuari faction was to hold a peace march in the city and to raise their flag to dramatize their grievances on the proposed MILF – Gov’t peace process where the MNLF is reportedly left out.
Peace dialogue is an effective weapon in preventing conflict that will result to armed confrontation if not attended earlier.
However nobody has initiated a peace dialogue between the local government and the MNLF forces reportedly headed by commander Malik.
Negotiation is not within the level of the local authorities as far as the demand of the MNLF Misuari faction is concerned.
Therefore the dialogue is limited only on the prevention of armed conflict between the government and the MNLF forces.
But due to lack of a peace dialogue the government forces were constrained to confront the MNLF forces as part of their duties to defend the city that resulted to burning of more houses, evacuation of more than 60,000 residents and casualties on military and police personnel, civilians and on the MNLF side and taking of hostages.
The crisis management committee (CMC) headed by the city mayor who was initially the concurrent ground commander unfortunately failed to address the crisis.
By Rex G. Miravite
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