Climaco: Nur Misuari has to face raps
MANILA – During the 20-day standoff between government troops and fighters of the Nur Misuari-led faction of the Moro National Liberation Front (MNLF), Mayor Beng Climaco became the face of Zamboanga, continuously urging Zamboangueños to be strong and united.
While she gave daily updates on the ground, Climaco said she was already looking beyond the ongoing crisis.
Nearly 200 MNLF rebels were killed in three weeks of fighting, with almost 300 more either captured or surrendered.
Authorities have filed rebellion charges against Misuari, Malik—who are still both at large—and 80 other MNLF members.
Climaco, one of the complainants in the case, said her perception of Misuari has changed because of the siege.
“Before, I was so honored because I was picked to interview [Misuari] as a reporter, but nowadays I am the one who signed the affidavit that he has to face charges for the sake of our children,” she said.
She noted, however, that despite Misuari’s actions, the Office of the Presidential Adviser on the Peace Process should continue the dialogue with rebel forces.
“I still believe OPAPP should carry on with the dialogue with them, listen to them—all the diverse voices that want to be part of the process. After what had happened, I have a different opinion about [Misuari] but then again, these people have claims towards the peace accord that they’ve started. It’s worth reaching out and listening to them, although I cannot speak for the families that have lost women and children and husbands and wives. They really have to be met by justice and the law,” she said.
The mayor said by the fifth day of the siege, she knew that the MNLF fighters won’t be backing down.
“It was a Thursday after talking to Nur Misuari and Commander Malik that I reached out to them, realizing that what they were asking was beyond any local government unit can provide,” she told ANC’s “Prime Time” on Thursday.
However, she said she also knew that if Zamboanga was placed under state of emergency at that point, the city’s future will also be at risk.
“Zamboanga has really been violated in the past because of poor perception. If we declare a state of emergency, I was thinking after this siege, no one would ever want to come to us,” she said.
Although a state of emergency wasn’t declared, a 9-hour curfew was implemented and residents were urged to always have in their possession government-issued IDs.