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The 9/9 MNLF siege of Zamboanga City; lessons learned; faults unmasked


(Concluding part)

“O mankind! We created you from a single (pair) of a male and a female and made you into nations and tribes that ye may know each other (not that ye may despise each other). Verily, the most honored of you in the sight of Allah is (he who is) the most righteous of you. And Allah has full knowledge and is well acquainted (with all things).”

- Holy Qur’an 49:13

“When the old have no compassion for the young, when the young show no respect to the old… when the children grow angry… Judgment is at hand.”

- (Hadith) Holy Prophet Muhammad (SAW)
The anxiety of that September 9, 2013 attack of the MNLF (Misuari faction) is still lingering. However, the general feeling of the people of Zamboanga (Muslims, Christians and Lumads) is to rise and rebuild their lives in dignity. Hence, so many well-meaning citizens of the city have bonded among themselves to do something for the city. The business community by opening their businesses, the schools and academe opened the schools to the children and the students, the religious community looking for ways to return the people to the faith in God and offer them psychological and spiritual healings; the government officials looking for ways to rehabilitate and reconstruction of houses to the best the government could offer.

We see in our people (the Zamboangueños) the willingness to rise and recover from that tragic day of September 9, 2013, but not to forget the lessons of September 9, 2013. Indeed, there were faults committed by both the MNLF and our government to the people as to why that siege had taken place. Those lessons should be retaught to the young ones and next generations in order not to repeat that great mistakes. One of these senseless mistakes we realized was the dismissal of rumors, treating it like a passing wind. The rumors were valuable information to our authorities but instead of RECEIVING, COLLATING, CLASSIFYING, VERIFYING and ANALYZING the rumors, our authorities even admonished the people not to listen to rumor! Now, what? The rumor came true! The attack of the MNLF came, and almost conquered the city, who is/are accountable for this negligence on the part of the police, city officials and the military? Only Congress can unravel such stupidity of our authorities.

Lesson: Never treat rumor as “a passing wind” never again! The dictionary defines rumor as: “ a popular report; current story; to circulate by report.”
Nothing in the dictionary which states something negative. I cannot understand why our government people and even the media are so averse of the rumor as peddled by some people. As I mentioned rumor can be a good source of information, if handled correctly and properly.
Dismiss rumor as a passing wing? Take your pick and God bless you.

As BOTTOMLINE concludes this humble narrative of WHAT had happened, HOW it happened and along the way we were able to give even just a hint as to WHY the attack of the MNLF happened. Many knew there was something wrong on how our government handled the MNLF issues even before the attack, and, the worse manifestation of mishandling by the national and city government officials came to the public attention, when discordant notes from the officials were displayed before our eyes and ears that was indeed a part of Zamboanga’s “Dark History”.

Even in the worse time, there were still personalities who emerged doing their best even beyond the call of duty not out of fear, or for credit, or for material or personal honor but out of compassion, kindness, the human instinct of doing good to others were demonstrated by the best of people in those agonizing hours, days, weeks, and beyond so beautifully done, only the best of hearts could have done so much to the people in need of succor and comfort.

And we have them: they are what I call the TOWERING FIGURES IN THE MIDST OF CONFLICT:

- Sec. Dinky Soliman – she was so demure, but taller than the conflict inflicted upon the innocents. Her “smallness” was an inspiration and strength to so many Zamboangueños.

- Mayor Beng Climaco – Salazar – despite the perceived “mishandling” of the crisis committee, she was unwavering and formidable. A leader noteworthy of admiration.

- The members of the City Council, as one collegial body rallied behind Mayor Beng Climaco – Salazar and stood with her for better or for worse, and the people gave their eternal gratitude to all our councilors. There was no showing of political acrobatics by our noble councilors. We, doff our hats, a salute to all of them.


As we close the “Black Chapter” of Zamboanga’s history, the next generation of Zamboangueños will eternally be grateful if we can do what should be done: a remembrance of that fateful September 9, 2013 – this writer had submitted to Hon. Gerky Valesco as to what we shall do for the coming years in remembrance of 9 September 2013.
In addition to that:

- A PEACE GARDEN and PEACE MONUMENT shall be constructed between the barangays of Sta. Barbara, Sta. Catalina and Lustre, that once there was harmony among the people in these areas, until ruined by the MNLF attackers. I respectfully refer this matter to HON. PERCIVAL RAMOS

- A continuing HEALING ACTIVITIES shall be conducted by churches, madrasa, mosques. CSO – NGOs the academe and schools and business establishments should support such endeavors. This matter is respectfully referred to Hon. Myra Paz V. Abubakar and Hon. BG Guingona.

- A COMMUNICATION-RECEIVING CENTER under the Office of the Mayor shall be established through a legislative act where messages can be coursed through this Center, that includes rumor, complaints even the most foolish messages should be received by a staff of competent specialists. I sincerely refer thi matter to my former student, Hon. Roel Natividad. Communication is a security concern.

- SANCTUARY for the Tao-Mar (Badjaos) shall be established and make this a “living village” which will eventually be an attraction to visitors if government “sustain” this “Sanctuary” with mechanisms provided by the State to protect this “Sanctuary” from encroachment by other dominant tribe.

This proposal is in accord with the UNITED NATIONS DECLARATION on the RIGHTS OF INDIGENOUS PEOPLES, see Article 7 (sec. 2), Article 8 (sec. 1) and Article 10 of the same DECLARATION.

This matter is respectfully referred to Hon. VP Elago for his favorable consideration and actions.

With the above envisioned proposals, I just hope the honorable members of the City Council will look at these proposals not only as an act of official duty but with a kind heart for the good of the City and her people. Zamboanga City is still “Orgullo de Mindanao”.

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