Palace won't close door to peace with MNLF

By Jorge Carino, ABS-CBN News

Posted at Feb 06 2014 07:09 PM | Updated as of Feb 07 2014 03:09 AM

Operational cost of gov't in response to Zamboanga siege: P7.6 billion

MANILA - The Aquino administration has not closed its doors on the Moro National Liberation Front (MNLF) despite the violent siege that occurred in Zamboanga City in September last year.

Presidential Adviser on the Peace Process Ging Deles said the administration continues to reach out to the MNLF-Nur Misuari faction, which has been opposing a peace deal between the government and the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF).

She told the Senate that the siege in Zamboanga happened because MNLF Chairman Nur Misuari was unhappy with the peace process since it will not perpetuate him in power.

Deles said the government has been exerting effort to reach out to the MNLF through the local government in Sulu, the Armed Forces, and even through formal channels. She said the still recognizes MNLF central committee vice chairman Jimmy Labawan, who "is in contact with government."

In fact, according to Deles, she had a two-hour meeting with Labawan last Monday.

The peace adviser said government peace negotiators and officials have been consulting with the Organization of Islamic Cooperation (OIC) to discuss how government can persuade the MNLF to participate in the peace process.

Thursday's joint hearing of the Senate Committee on National Defense and Security, and Senate Committee on Peace, Reconciliation and Unification sought to examine the motive behind the attack on Zamboanga City last September.

Zamboanga City Mayor Beng Climaco, Zamboanga 1st District Representative Celso Lobregat and the Armed Forces of the Philippines gave their versions on how the events in Zamboanga unfolded.

The siege led to the burning of 9,470 houses in five barangays and the displacement of 118,819 residents who took shelter in evacuation centers.

The overall operational cost of the crisis amounted to P7.6 billion.