In a news conference DILG Secretary Mar Roxas said about 180 residents, including those appearing in the picture, are not “hostages” but used as “human shield”. Not bound, not detained, they are free to leave as they pleased, he said.
About 1,500 residents of men, women, weak and aged people, children and babies are displaced as a result of the on-and-off gun battle raging between’s MNLF followers versus government forces. They are housed in crowded government gymnasium, while responsible government agencies are trying to meet their basic needs food, medicine, clothing and proper waste disposal.
Lt. Col. Ramon Zagala said some 180 MNLF gunmen are now surrounded by about 1,500 elite troop, with a number of local police helping.
Since the conflict erupted on Monday, Sept. 9, a number of persons have already been killed. As they stormed Zamboanga City, the MNLF led by Habier Malik, said Wesmincom Maj. Gen. Rey Ardo, killed 6 persons: four civilians, one navy soldier, one policeman, and injured 6 navy soldiers and 14 civilians. Ardo said that while the MNLF followers were besieging Zamboanga, the military knew that Misuari was in Talipao, Sulu. He also said that 5 of the attackers were apprehended the following morning.
On the other hand, government naval commandos killed 7 MNLF members at sea on the same day as they forced their way into the city, according to Philippine navy spokesman Lt. Cmdr. Gregory Fabic.
The MNLF (Moro National Liberation Front) faction led by Nur Misuari is opposed to peace talks being forged between President Aquino’s Administration and the MILF (Moro Islamic Liberation Front). The early dawn Sept. 9 MNLF attack was a well calculated effort to derail the resumption of talks between the government and the MILF peace panels in Kuala Lumpur on Tuesday.
ABS-CBN news report as of Sept. 13 (2:53 p.m.)
Pres. Aquino flew to Zamboanga to assess general situations. He said that the MNLF rebels’ move is a desperate attempt to derail a settlement to end decades of Muslim rebellion.
Summary of 22 people confirmed killed; 52 wounded; 19 MNLF gunmen surrendered or captured; 15,000 residents displaced; 200 residents seized as hostage to function as human shield.
The rebels have since been pinned down in a few largely Muslim communities, setting fire to houses while firing at troops to keep them at bay.
Misuari is open to any idea, his spokesman Absalom Cerveza said.
"Just bring whatever personality you want, and if they are good to us also, we will talk to them," he said.
Misuari alleges the government is violating the terms of a 1996 peace treaty by negotiating a separate peace deal with a rival faction, the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF).
Mandatory evacuation of residents in 6 conflict areas had been carried on by trucks, jeeps and motorized tricycles