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Floods force PNP to stop clearing operations in Zambo 'war zone'

Zamboanga police are seen in earlier maneuvers against the MNLF. AFP FILE PHOTO
The online news portal of TV5

MANILA - Floods caused by steady rains have forced the Philippine National Police (PNP) to suspend clearing operations in areas where heavy fighting with hundreds of Moro National Liberation Front (MNLF) members occurred in the 20-day siege of Zamboanga City.

Chief Inspector Ariel Huesca, spokesman of the Police Regional Office 9 (PRO9), said Monday, “For the meantime, the Task Group Suyud temporarily suspended the conduct of clearing operations since Friday afternoon up to today because of the inclement weather.”

Before the suspension, the clearing teams had recovered 280 pieces of unexploded ordnance such as rifle grenade, hand grenade, 40 mm rounds (M203) used in grenade launcher; and 11 assorted firearms.

Huesca said the clearing teams, particularly the PNP crime laboratory office of Region 9, also recovered and processed 156 cadavers: 146 MNLF rebels and 10 civilians, 3 of whom are victims of an explosion in Barangay Labuan, Zamboanga City.

Huesca said for Phase 2 clearing operations alone, the teams recovered 45 cadavers, most of them decomposed.

Resettlement site

Meanwhile, Mayor Maria Isabelle Climaco-Salazar led the ground-breaking of the first resettlement site or the Taluksangay Resettlement Site last Saturday.

Climaco-Salazar asked her constituents for their support, regardless of religion, by way of welcoming the families who will be making Taluksangay their new home.

The Taluksangay Resettlement is one of the sites to be developed by the local government for the thousands of displaced families rendered homeless by the three-week crisis.

The 1.4-hectare site, donated by Taluksangay Chairman Abdurahman Nuňo, will accommodate 220 families in  temporary shelters in 22 bunkhouses to be set up by the Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD) and the Habitat for Humanity.

The temporary shelters will house the families now staying at the Taluksangay National High School, in order to allow the secondary school to open for classes in the coming weeks. Besides the temporary shelters, the resettlement area can also accommodate 274 houses on stilts.

“The building of temporary and permanent shelters is part of the rehabilitation plan initiated by the local government in partnership with the DSWD and the Habitat for Humanity. Under this partnership, Habitat for Humanity will build temporary shelters and shoulder the administrative costs for its upkeep. Each bunkhouse will cost P100,000, to be taken from the P3.8-billion budget earmarked by the national government for rehabilitation,” the mayor said.