THE Police Regional Office 9 yesterday denied having monitored the presence of armed Moro National Liberation Front rebels massing in some parts of Zamboanga City where they were allegedly plotting to lay siege on the city anew.
“We deny the presence of MNLF in areas like Rio-Hondo, Mariki, Sta Barbara, Sta Catalina and Bugguck and no presence of MNLF or any stranger was found,” said PRO9 director Brigadier General Froilan F. Quidilla .
Around 10 a.m. on Tuesday, Quidilla said members of the Task Force Zamboanga conducted house-to-house visit in Kasanyangan, Bugguck and Sta. Catalina.
Zamboanga City Polic Office director Colonel Thomas Joseph Martir and his men also visited RioHondo and Mariki areas and no MNLF rebels or even strangers were sighted.
However, Martir confirmed that the request for permit of an MNLF group to hold a forum in Zamboanga City has been denied by local authorities following verification from the Office of the Presidential Peace Process and the Department of Interior and Local Government that the meeting is not sanctioned by either offices.
“A follow-up call was made to the permit applicant Muksan Taguid-id and he said they respect the decision of the city government to forgo any activity sought to be conducted,” Martir said.
“We urge people not to panic due to unverified information. Let the authorities handle them and wait for further advice for proper action,” he added.
The PRO9 and the Armed Forces of the Philippines Southern Command have called on the public and their barangay intelligence network and “force multipliers” to maintain their vigilance in reporting the presence of unidentified men in their neighborhood.
On September 9, 2013, an MNLF faction known as the rogue MNLF elements under the Sulu State Revolutionary Command led by Ustadz Habier Malik and Khiad Ajibon attempted to raise the flag of the self-proclaimed Bangsamoro Republik in Zamboanga City and declared their independence.
Security troops moved to free civilians taken hostage by the group triggering clashes for days which caused the displacement of more than 100,000 people, the occupation of several barangays by the MNLF, the closure of the Zamboanga City International Airport and the death of over 200 persons including many of the gunmen and the wounding of nearly 300 others.
The government declared the siege as over 19 days later.