Zamboanga classes suspended, alert raised as MILF supporters hold 'peace caravan'
Roel Pareño (The Philippine Star) - February 10, 2015 - 1:59pm

ZAMBOANGA City, Philippines - Tension gripped the city and high alert was raised on Tuesday as supporters of the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) held a "peace caravan" without seeking a permit from the city government on Tuesday.

The movement of the MILF supporters prompted class suspensions with parents running in panic to their children's school due to fears of a possible repeat of the 2013 Zamboanga siege where more than 400 rebels of the Moro National Liberation Front (MNLF) attempted to hld a "peace march."

Marine forces and city government security forces surrounded the city hall in full battle gear as the city imposed high alert.

Combat police forces from the provincial and city public safety company also blocked at least 10 pick-up trucks along the highways in Ipil and R.T Lim towns in Zamboanga Sibugay province, which were en route to the city for the peace caravan.

Taha Baranda, who claimed to be the MILF's political affairs chair based in this city, said that they were expecting the arrival of members of the Mindanao Peace Alliance coming from the different areas in Zamboanga del Sur and Zamboanga Sibugay.

Baranda told local radio stations that the group's plan was to peacefully drive around the city as a show of their continuing support for the peace process between the MILF and the government.

City Mayor Ma. Isabelle Climaco-Salazar said the groups have no permit to conduct peace caravan in the city and were advised to instead hold rallies in their respective communities.

Superintendent Ariel Huesca, commander of the Public Safety Company, led the deployment of his forces and blocked the possible entry of the MILF caravan at the border of the city and Tungawan town, Zamboanga Sibugay.

City School’s Division Superintendent Pedro Melchor Natividad said she was forced to suspend classes as parents fetched their children from schools out of fear of the MILF supporters' movement.

“We can not prevent the parents to get their children from the schools,” Natividad said.

CITY CITY MAYOR MA CITY SCHOOL DIVISION SUPERINTENDENT PEDRO MELCHOR NATIVIDAD IPIL AND R ISABELLE CLIMACO-SALAZAR MINDANAO PEACE ALLIANCE MORO ISLAMIC LIBERATION FRONT MORO NATIONAL LIBERATION FRONT PUBLIC SAFETY COMPANY ZAMBOANGA SIBUGAY
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