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Reflection and challenge (The Zamboanga Siege)

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An inspirational message of Rev. Paulino R. Ersando on September, 9,2014

GREETINGS:

Eighteen scores and 26 days or a total of 365 days ago today, our beloved City was under attack, wider siege on the early morning of September 9, 2013. The attack was perpetrated by misguided elements and in the words of our military authorities, the 250 to 350 rebels belong to the MNLF. The siege lasted for 19 days, what a tragic experience. ,

What is the result of this traumatic experience?

Results: 20 soldiers and 5 policemen died; 208 Rebels killed; 294 Rebels captured, 12 civilians killed and 75 civilians wounded including 4 hostages, 194 government forces wounded, 23,704 families displaced - 118, 819 persons. 2,304 families or 12,476 persons still in the Grandstand as of now, 167 died in evacuation centers due to malnutrition and other diseases in the Grandstand.

Said attack which directly involved 6 barangays actually affected all of us. The event had far reaching effect on the whole population. It affected our life. Court had to resume its session time in November. School classes had to be suspended in several schools especially within the affected barangays. Business had slowed down. Our economy suffered.

The adverse result in said attack is beyond description, the Grandstand became the center of refuge for our displaced families.

But the good news is that those misguided elements failed to accomplish their objective. It failed to intimidate our government leaders. Our military and members of the PNP had stood their ground mounting an assault which resulted to deaths on the part of the rebels, soldiers, civilians, and the burning to the ground of hundreds of houses.

The Zamboanga Siege, which we now commemorates with much pain and wounds in our hearts, does not merit so much importance. Nevertheless, the sad event deserves to be remembered. In the words of Secretary Soliman we have to get back to the past. Indeed, if only for the lessons the siege taught us.

Why this commemoration? Undoubtedly, we have to remind ourselves and the future generations that event when the good people of our city, YOU AND ME, fought for the protection of our lives, for the preservation of our human dignity and in the process to show to other Filipinos in Luzon and the Visayas and to the whole world for that matter, that Zamboanga cannot be threatened, intimated or coerced. We have shown our capacity to defend our beloved city from the invasion or attack of the rebel group that inflicted sufferings to us.

Even while the fighting was still going on, Zamboanga did not sleep. The national government came to our rescue and extended support. The AFP and the PNP had done their best to prevent the fight from escalating to other areas of the city. The private sectors responded. The religious group did their part. While our uniformed men were fighting for our city, the churches prayed without ceasing until almost 300 rebels were captured. They have been charged and now awaiting trial while being detained at Taguig Detention Center.

The Local Crisis Management Committee did its best to contain the situation. The arrest of the attackers was not effected immediately as expected because of the hostages in the hands of the rebels used by them as human shield. In the process they had violated not only local laws but also international humanitarian laws which is a part of our Constitution.

Now, under the able leadership of Mayor Maria Isabelle G. Climaco-Salazar, all efforts by the government and private sectors are being harnessed for restoration. To rehabilitate and relocate affected families to the end that we will BUILD BACK BETTER ZAMBOANGA.

This is the fighting faith and slogan of our Mayor. This Lady executive is known for her soft and kindhearted heart. But such trait is not to me, a sign of weakness. On the contrary, it shows that her efforts to give the best to the city of Zamboanga is manifested by her unwavering and unparalled resolve to “Build Back Better Zamboanga”. Mind you, the siege occurred while she is still warming her seat at City Hall. To be exact 70 days after her oath-taking as Mayor on June 30, 2013. This is an unprecedented experience of and a challenge to Mayor Beng.

With the support of our two Representatives in Congress, the City Council and the other local government officials, I am sure that we will succeed.

Much is still to be done.

The inspiration and challenge this afternoon is that in pursuing our efforts to rebuild our City, and bring back the glory to our City of Flowers, we should always consider that we have to ponder and meditate upon spiritual element which I believe, we should all adhere. That GOD, the ALMIGHTY GOD of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob, whom Christians and Muslims recognize as GOD, DESERVES our WORSHIP AND PRAISE, for without ALMIGHTY GOD, we cannot do anything good. This reminds me of the words of Apostle, Paul: “I CAN DO ALL THINGS, THROUGH CHRIST WHO GIVES ME THE STRENGTH.”

We are now in the period of healing the wounds, the pain and the sorrow for those whose family member perished during the siege. They deserve our gratitude attention and care.

Consequently, I beseech you ladies and gentlemen to pray and ask for wisdom and guidance to No One But OUR ALMIGHTY GOD,

May the peace and love of God, and the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ be our portion now and forever.

GOOD AFTERNOON and GOD BLESS, Asalamu Alaikum.

Thank you.




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