ZAMBOANGA CITY (Mindanao Examiner / Apr. 8, 2012) – The Philippines’ largest Muslim rebel group Moro Islamic Liberation Front has demanded the resignation of Zamboanga City Mayor Celso Lobregat for his failure to put a stop to the spate of killings here.
Khaled Musa, the MILF deputy chairman, said Lobregat has no more clout to stay in his post. “Better resign now or the people’s wrath will descend upon you, because of your inability to stop the almost daily killing in your turf,” Musa said.
The MILF statement came after motorcycle gunmen shot Dr. Arturo Eustaquio, president of the Universidad de Zamboanga, in a daring attack earlier this month, in the village of Santa Maria.
Eustaquio’s murder added to more than 60 mostly unsolved murder cases in Zamboanga since early this year. Zamboanga is also home to a minority group of Muslims.
Local politicians also demanded the resignation of Lobregat, who is also the chairman of the regional peace and order council in Western Mindanao.
The influential Inter-Religious Solidarity Movement for Peace also called President Benigno Aquino and Lobregat to put a stop to the unabated gun attacks and killings in Zamboanga.
It said Eustaquio’s death is but a climax to the long-rising sense of frustration mixed with dread of local residents over the series of violent killings in Zamboanga, mostly in public and always with the use of guns, for the past so many months.
“The people are greatly concerned and fearful now: if an assassin can kill with impunity a man of stature like Eustaquio, who then in this city can be safe from a similar attack? Nobody – in this so-called Asia’s Latin City in which the rule of law is now teetering on the brink of a total collapse, if not already,” the group said in a statement.
It appealed to Aquino to utilize his “extraordinary/special powers to order appropriate officials, agencies and sectors to restore and preserve peace and order and the rule of law in Zamboanga City.”
It called on Interior Secretary Jesse Robredo to order the police to swiftly investigate Eustaquio’s killing and to bring to justice all those responsible for his death and for those of others similarly killed in the past months and years, most of which are unresolved.
And for Lobregat to take seriously his job in regard to the safety of citizens, peace and sense of security and to utilize and properly his office’s considerable resources, power and authority for that pre-eminent concern and need of city residents.
It also appealed to all the public and citizens to do their share of civic responsibility to ensure the prevention of crimes and to help authorities to bring to justice anyone who committed a crime.
“Life is sacred and any violent death diminishes all humanity, but especially among those who share a sense of local community and family. It is only by respecting life and one another that we can live and exist as a civilized society, and so we tremble to perceive how our city is now going towards the opposite abyss,” the statement, signed by Father Angelo Calvo, Professor Ali Yacub, Rev. Paulino Ersando and Nulhamdo Cegales, said.
Most of the murders have been largely blamed to hired killers who are actively operating in Zamboanga City. Among their victims were lawyers, traders, journalists, and civilians. (Mindanao Examiner)