National gov't should handle Zambo crisis: Biazon
MANILA - Muntinlupa Rep. Rodolfo Biazon on Tuesday proposed the creation of a national management team to handle the crisis in Zamboanga City.
Biazon, who is a former Armed Forces chief of staff, said the crisis is beyond the scope of the authority of the city mayor.
He said the team should be composed of the Department of the Interior and Local Government, Department of Justice, Department of National Defense and the Office of the Presidential Adviser on the Peace Process.
He also said there is a need to establish who is really in control.
Biazon said the team will make the decisions to ensure the safety of the hostages prevent t the escalation of the tension and assess consequences for the future.
Moro National Liberation Front (MNLF) rebels seized more hostages and traded gunfire with government troops Tuesday, in the second day of a stand-off after mounting a deadly attack on Zamboanga City.
The rebels seized 20 hostages at the start of the crisis, but Zamboanga Mayor Maria Isabelle Climaco Salazar said they were now holding 170 people in six villages where they are holed up.
"What we are seeing is that they are being used as human shields," Salazar said in an interview with ABS-CBN television. "We are working for the release of the hostages and a peaceful resolution of this problem."
The gunmen, followers of by MNLF founder Nur Misuari, poured into six coastal villages on Monday before mounting an assault on Zamboanga, causing panic in the city of nearly one million people.
Misuari has declared "independence" for the Muslim southern regions of the mainly Catholic Philippines and called on his followers to besiege government installations.
The initial attack killed six people, wounded 24 others and forced about 1,500 residents to flee their homes, according to the mayor.
Negotiators were now trying to convince the gunmen to release the villagers, said Muktar Muarip, a local Muslim community leader in talks with the rebels. With a report by Agence France-Presse