By Teofilo P. Garcia Jr.
ZAMBOANGA CITY, 9Sept2013 – The city government has declared a curfew effective Monday night until such time the situation will be normalized in the city.
Mayor Ma. Isabelle Climaco-Salazar issued the declaration following a closed-door meeting with Local Government secretary Manuel Roxas, II, Defense secretary Voltaire Gazmin and other top government officials where they discussed issues and problems on the prevailing situation here.
President Benigno Aquino, III sent Roxas and Gazmin to help oversee the situation in this city brought about by the infiltration of rebels loyal to Moro National Liberation Front (MNLF) founding-chair Nur Misuari.
Six people, including a policeman and a Navy soldier, were killed while 24 others were wounded in firefights in Barangay Rio Hondo, 0.92 kilometers east of this city, and Sta. Catalina, 1.76 kms. also east of here.
The firefight broke out early Monday when hundreds of Misuari followers infiltrated this city through the shores of Barangay Rio Hondo and other nearby areas.
A total of 220 people have been held hostage in Barangay Sta. Catalina, police said.
Salazar said the curfew starts from 8 p.m. Monday until 5 a.m. Tuesday. The members of the media were given curfew passes.
Roxas explained the imposition of the curfew is aimed at avoiding misencounter and to ensure the safety of the civilians.
Roxas said that the situation has been under control, saying the rebel forces were contained in barangays Sta. Barbara and Sta. Catalina.
Salazar said that classes and works will remain suspended on Tuesday in all local public and private institutions.
Meanwhile, close to 3,000 evacuees, who fled their homes, are housed at the city’s sports complex. They are from Barangays Tetuan, Talon-Talon, and Kasanyangan.
Personnel of the City Social Welfare and Development Office (CSWDO) headed by Evelyn Las Marias are attending to the needs of the evacuees. (PNA)