By Janice M. Cave
MANILA, (PNA) — After staying for more than a week in Zamboanga City to assess and monitor the standoff between government forces and Nur Misuari-led Moro National Liberation Front fighters, President Benigno Aquino III will fly back to Manila Sunday.
“May ibang bagay na dapat kong tugunan,” President Aquino said at a media briefing in Zamboanga City.
Critics have been asking why Aquino has extended his stay in the southern Philippine city, saying there are other national matters that need to be addressed.
Aquino flew to Zamboanga City on Sept 13 (Friday).
“Ang sadya ko rito, ayaw nating magtagumpay ‘yung mga taong gustong palalain pa ‘yung sitwasyon… Nais kong ipakita na tutok na tutok ang gobyerno para mapahupa ang gulo,” he said.
Aquino stressed that the government did not abandon the 1996 peace agreement with the MNLF as claimed by Misuari.
“Hindi naman umaatras ang gobyerno sa usapan sa kanila (MNLF) sa peace agreement,” he said.
As the crisis enters its third week, the military’s clearing operations continue.
In a radio interview over State-run Radyo ng Bayan, Deputy Presidential Spokesperson Abigail Valte, said the military has urged other MNLF members to surrender by dropping flyers in several MNLF-controlled areas in the city.
“Meron namang tumutugon, sana lahat sila tumugon,” she said.
President Aquino said some of those who surrendered said they were lured by Misuari, saying they were attending a peace rally.
“‘Yung mga sumama dito, ‘yung mga sumuko, sinabi nila nilinlang sila ni Misuari sa peace rally,” he said.
MNLF men stormed the city on Sept 9 and engaged government forces in a standoff and held several civilians hostages.