MANILA – Some of the affected residents of the bloody 2013 Zamboanga siege are dismayed over the possibility that more than 100 accused members of the Moro National Liberation Front (MNLF) could be acquitted.
Santa Catalina Barangay Chairman Jimmy Villaflores, whose village was one of those directly hit by the conflict, said they cannot do anything but to accept an acquittal, if this is what the court rules.
But he said there should be justice for the thousands of families left homeless by the conflict and for families who lost their loved ones during the almost one month of hostilities.
Villaflores also said that some of the witnesses who submitted their testimonies to authorities are now hesitant about testifying in court, citing security concerns.
Annie Fernando, whose house was among the thousands razed by fire during the conflict, pleaded for justice for the atrocities brought by the MNLF, led by its founding chairman Nur Misuari, to the city.
She said they had a difficult transition after losing most of their belongings during the crisis.
Meanwhile, there are others who do not share these sentiments of some residents.
Amir Usman believes the situation in Zamboanga City will become stable and peaceful if the detained MNLF members are freed and cleared in their criminal cases.
Zamboanga City Legal Officer, Atty. Jesus Carbon, said that evidence against the MNLF members is weak, citing the initial evaluation of the panel of prosecutors under the Department of Justice.
Carbon said they are now considering the plea bargaining proposal of the respondents, wherein accused MNLF members will plead guilty for lesser crimes such as sedition, illegal assembly and illegal use of uniforms.
He said he already asked for the list of the accused MNLF members who will be included in the plea bargaining, to evaluate the evidence against them.
Carbon said he will then explain to Zamboanga City Mayor Maria Isabelle Climaco-Salazar the dilemma and what their legal options are.