ZAMBOANGA CITY — The city government has allocated PHP2 million for the ongoing legal battle with members of the Moro National Liberation Front (MNLF) who laid a siege on the city in September 2013.
Mayor Maria Isabelle Climaco-Salazar on Monday said the amount will be used to shoulder housing and travel expenses of witnesses in going to Metro Manila where the case is being heard by a regional trial court.
“We set an amount of PHP2 million for our legal battle against the MNLF,” the mayor said referring to rogue MNLF elements under then Sulu State Revolutionary Command (SSRC) leader Ustadz Habier Malik.
Malik, who is presumed dead, is a loyal follower of MNLF founding chair Nur Misuari and led a rogue group of some 200 MNLF coming from Zamboanga, Basilan, Sulu, and Tawi-Tawi, to lay siege on the city for 21 days.
The crisis began on Sept. 9, 2013 when members of the MNLF faction attempted to raise the flag of the self-proclaimed Bangsamoro Republik at the City Hall grounds.
According to Salazar, they will fight the court case “until the end” to reflect the local sentiment against the siege.
She noted that in 2001, another MNLF faction under Julhambri Misuari, a nephew of Nur Misuari, led an attack in Cabatangan Complex here but were allowed to leave without any charges filed.
Salazar said that was a mistake.
“The MNLF was allowed to leave freely and eventually years after, they came back fully armed and attacked the city again,” she said.
The mayor is the principal complainant in the 2013 siege case filed against nearly 200 MNLF combatants, including MNLF founder Nur Misuari and Habier Malik.
The 2013 siege displaced some 120,000 individuals and left over 100 people, including 38 government forces, dead. (PNA)