Zamboanga City— With the “alarming” series of shooting incidents in the city recently, the Zamboanga Peace and Security Forum (ZPSF) in partnership with the Ulama Council for Zamboanga Peninsula (UCZP) invited the security sector to a special meeting on March 15, 2019 to brief the stakeholders on the current status of peace and security.

 

 

 

Stakeholders from the academe, indigenous peoples, women, and religious convened to discuss with the members of the security sector about their “worries” and “fears” over the seeming unstoppable shooting incidents carried out by the usual riding-in-tandem perpetrators.

 

“We gather here because we are trying to help the security sector to prevent and secure the city,” underscored by Fr. Angel C. Calvo, CMF the lead convener of the ZPSF.

 

Participant raising his concern during the conversations on peace and security.

 

Police Chief Inspector Shelamie T. Chang, the information office of the Zamboanga City Police office, and Lieutenant Colonel Rolando P. Gomez, the commander of the 11th Infantry Battalion of the Philippine Army took turns in presenting a thorough security briefing.

 

Fr. Calvo said that the convening of the ZPSF group was prompted by the Ulama Council of Zamboanga Peninsula (UCZP), through Sheikh Abdulwakil Kasim, the chairperson of the Crisis Management Committee. Sheikh Kasim informed Fr. Calvo that Muslim religious leaders are deeply concerned about the spate of killings in the city. During the meeting, Sheikh Kasim, asserted that in just “…three days there were series of shooting incidents and most of the fatalities were Muslims.”

 

However, the city police quickly downplayed the suspicion of “religious killing” existing in the city. “We don’t see any pattern that the shooting incidents in the city had something to do with the religious connection,” said Chief Inspector Chang. She added: “There were other motives behind those killings.”

 

Data from the local city police office show there were already 13 shooting incidents within January – March 2019 that were mostly perpetrated by the riding-in-tandem suspects. According to the police report, there are 3 apparent motives to the crime: drugs, business rivalry, and love-related personal conflicts. Chief Inspector Chang asserted that the city’s “…peace and order is relatively peaceful.”

 

Meanwhile, Lt. Col. Gomez of the Philippine Army informed the body that the military’s assessment of the city is at “vulnerable level”. He went on to present the different “mitigating measures” that the military is implementing in the city to suppress the entry and movements of threat groups.

 

 

 

 

Both the ZPSF and UCZP agreed to strengthen their coordinative ties, as they vowed to continue sharing information and analysis through regular group conversation and discussion.

 

The Zamboanga Peace and Security Forum is a platform for secuirty updating, reflections and analysis with funding support through the EnPolD Bangsamoro project of the Institute for Autonomy and Governance, in partnership with the Bangsamoro Women Services Center (BWSC), Institute for Bangsamoro Studies (IBS), Initiatives for International Dialogue (IID), Organization of Teduray and Lambangian Conference and Zamboanga Basilan Integrated Alliance, Inc. (ZABIDA), and supported by the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade,  Australia. (Albert F. Arcilla, ZABIDA)