Zamboanga City implements forced evacuation
MANILA – The Zamboanga City government has ordered the forced evacuation of residents in several villages affected by the ongoing standoff between government forces and Moro National Liberation Front (MNLF) fighters under Nur Misuari.
The city council approved on Thursday night Ordinance 418, implementing forced evacuation in Barangays Rio Hondo, Sta. Barbara, Sta. Catalina, Talon-Talon, and Mampang.
At least 170 civilians are being held hostage in these villages, according to the city government.
The forced evacuation was implemented Friday even as President Benigno Aquino III arrived in the city.
Presidential Communications Secretary Ricky Carandang said Aquino went to Zamboanga City "to personally assess the situation on the ground."
The standoff began about a month after Misuari declared independence for Mindanao, Palawan and parts of Malaysia.
The declaration of independence was triggered by what the group believes is the government's abandonment of tripartite review of the 1996 final peace agreement in favor of holding peace talks with an MNLF breakaway group, the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF).
At least 13,000 Zamboanga residents have already fled their homes as the fighting continues. The number of displaced residents continues to grow.
The standoff has left at least 12 dead.