MANILA – Malacañang on Saturday appealed to media personnel in Zamboanga City to keep a safe distance from the conflict zone.
Deputy presidential spokesperson Abigail Valte expressed concern over the safety of reporters covering the standoff, saying they should not put their lives at risk just to put out a story.
“Doon sa mga kasamahan po natin sa media na nandoon sa Zamboanga City, naiintindihan po din natin 'yung inyong pangangailangan na makapagbato po ng istorya dito, ngunit mag-ingat din po kayo dahil kasama kayo doon sa mga pinoprotektahan ng ating kasundaluhan at ng ating kapulisan na nandoon,” she said in a radio interview.
“We appeal to them to cover the event at a safe distance para maiwasan din na mayroong mga kawani ng media na masaktan o kaya'y madamay doon sa mga operasyon doon,” she added.
On Friday, a mortar grenade exploded in what was considered a “safe zone,” where most of media personnel and Philippine National Red Cross workers were staying.
ABS-CBN correspondent Jorge Cariño said the blast occurred just a few meters from where he was. Several Red Cross workers were injured in the incident.
“Talagang mag-ingat kayo at talagang huwag nating isangkalan ang inyong kasiguruhan. Basta tandaan lang natin na talagang your safety is also paramount,” Valte said.
The death toll in the ongoing firefight has climbed to 52, the Armed Forces of the Philippines said on Saturday.
President Benigno Aquino III, Vice President Jejomar Binay and other government officials are in Zamboanga to discuss a truce with the rebel faction of the Moro National Liberation Front (MNLF), believed to be led by Nur Misuari.