Palace: Ending Zambo crisis not rushed for Obama visit
MANILA -- Malacañang said the upcoming visit of President Barack Obama will not affect the government's timetable to resolve the standoff in Zamboanga City.
"Walang kinalaman ang [pag]bisita po ni President Obama dito sa timetable na meron tayo sa gulo sa Zamboanga, so I don't think it's relevant. Ang primary concern natin is the safety of the civilians, the safety of the hostages, and it is totally irrelevant... We're not looking at the visit of President Obama as a benchmark [for] us to end. It's not. Our benchmark is to safeguard the hostages," Presidential spokesperson Edwin Lacierda said.
Obama is scheduled to visit the Philippines on October 11-12.
The Palace is hoping that life in Zamboanga will be back to normal soon, pointing out that trips of ships to Tawi-Tawi have resumed, and some schools and a mall have reopened.
"The Coast Guard, the Navy, and the PNP-Marine have set up security appropriate measures, just to be sure. And then also, today, as you have seen in the news, there are 149 elementary and secondary schools today that were opened. That's around 60 percent of the schools there. The remainder are still in conflict areas that are being used as evacuation centers," Lacierda said.
"I think the biggest boost to Zamboanga City is that they have already opened Mindpro? The mall - Mindpro Mall. That's the biggest in the city. So we are now returning, hopefully, to...full normalcy in areas that which are no longer affected by the conflict in Zamboanga City and, hopefully, we will recover soon," he added.