Five days of violent clashes have paralyzed the coastal city of Zamboanga. A dozen people are confirmed killed, fires have ravaged neighborhoods and the food scarcity for evacuees and residents trapped behind the front line is becoming acute. Fighting has also erupted on the nearby island Basilan between government forces and reported members of the Abu Sayyaf insurgent group.
On Friday, an airstrike was launched on Basilan and President Benigno Aquino arrived in Zamboanga. He blasted the rebels for trying to derail the peace process, saying that “the happy days of MNLF are over.” The current peace process with MILF is supposed to reach a conclusion before the year’s end.