Timeline: Crisis in Zamboanga City
(Updated 4:45 p.m., Oct. 3, 2013) Last month, Moro National Liberation Front (MNLF) founding chairman Nur Misuari declared the establishment of the United Federated States of Bangsamoro Republik in a gathering of his followers in his Sulu stronghold. According to the MNLF website, the new entity envisions a territory consisting of Mindanao, Basilan, Sulu, Tawi-Tawi, Palawan, and the state of Sabah in northern Borneo.
The declaration came after President Aquino's administration announced that it is in the final stages of negotiations for a peace deal with the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF), which is expected to result in a Bangsamoro Political Entity that will replace the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (ARMM).
The MILF is a splinter group of the MNLF, which had been considered moribund after it entered into a peace agreement with the Philippine government in 1996 and Misuari became the governor of ARMM. In 2001, Misuari was detained on rebellion charges after he allegedly ordered MNLF forces to attack government troops to prevent the holding of new elections. He was allowed to post bail in 2008.
Read: Timeline of the Mindanao Peace Process
The latest MNLF attack in Zamboanga City that entered its second day Tuesday is reminiscent of what happened in 2001. Here is a timeline of events in the latest incident involving Misuari.
July 25, 2013: Misuari writes a letter to the United Nations requesting for a peacekeeping force in Mindanao, due to the supposed increase in the number of military forces there. Malacañang dismisses his claim.
August 12, 2013: Misuari declares independence in a gathering in Talipao, Sulu, but the action is largely ignored by the government.
September 9, 2013: MNLF forces enter Zamboanga City.
At least six boatloads of MNLF forces land in Barangay Rio Hondo where they engaged the Philippine Navy's Special Operations Group in a firefight, resulting in the death of one navy man.
MNLF forces enter Zamboanga City.
At least four people are killed when an estimated 100 armed followers of Misuari attack parts of Zamboanga City, clashing with government troops and taking 20 people hostage in Barangay Sta. Catalina.
City Mayor Beng Climaco visits evacuees who have fled the standoff, and Catholic churches are designated as evacuation centers.
Zamboanga City police announce the arrest of 11 MNLF rebels, saying the group wanted to hoist their flag at the city hall.
The number of hostages held by the MNLF swells to 300 as the violence spreads to Barangay Santa Barbara and Barangay Talon-Talon.
The Department of Transportation and Communications cancels flights to Zamboanga due to the crisis caused by the standoff between the MNLF and military.
An MNLF official says their forces entered Zamboanga City to prevent the possible arrest of Misuari following “unusual” military movement.
President Aquino sends Interior Secretary Mar Roxas, Defense Secretary Voltaire Gazmin, and Armed Forces chief Gen. Emmanuel Bautista to Zamboanga City to help defuse the tension.
MNLF spokesperson Emmanuel Fontanilla confirms that the group engaged in a standoff with the military in Zamboanga is led by Misuari.
City mayor imposes 8 p.m. to 5 a.m. curfew to keep civilians safe.
Several countries issue advisories to their citizens against travel to Zamboanga due to the standoff.
September 10, 2013: The MNLF's clashes with the military enter second day.
Government forces prevent at least 30 armed MNLF members, who were using civilians from Bgy. Mampang as human shields, from joining their main fighting force in Bgy. Sta. Catalina.
MNLF forces fire rocket-propelled grenades and mortar at military positions. Earlier, gunshots were heard in Santa Barbara. City police clarify reports regarding the 300 civilians earlier described as hostages, saying they were actually “stranded” residents who could not leave the area due to fear of getting caught in the crossfire.
Reinforcements for the military including army, navy, air force, and police personnel arrive at the Edwin Andrews Airbase.
The MNLF releases six hostages in Barangay Talon-Talon, including five children.
The Philippine Coast Guard confirms that the MNLF attempted to attack two vessels docked at Zamboanga City's seaport. Government soldiers secure high-rise buildings in the city.
MNLF forces occupy an elementary school and the barangay hall in Santa Barbara, and move within 50 meters from the Zamboanga City Hall.
President Aquino says there is no evidence linking Misuari to the Zamboanga City attack.
Fire razes five houses in Barangay Sta. Barbara.
Mayor Climaco meets with Roxas and Gazmin and former Governor Tan to discuss the possible next steps to solve the crisis.
The AFP Western Mindanao Command based in Zamboanga City announces a red alert status due to the standoff with MNLF forces.
AFP spokesman Lt. Col. Ramon Zagala says no new reinforcements have joined the 180 MNLF rebels spread out in Sta. Barbara, Talon-Talon, Sta. Catalina, and Kasanyagan. Zagala adds that there are currently 168 hostages held by the MNLF.
At least 9,000 people are displaced due to the crisis and are currently housed in eight evacuation centers.
Climaco announces the suspension of classes in all levels for September 11 in both public and private schools, as well as the suspension of work.
However, city government operations will resume on September 11, while the operation of banking institutions is at the discretion of their management.
Government and MILF peace panels release a statement condemning the violence in Zamboanga City involving the MNLF.
A second fire breaks out in Barangay Sta. Barbara.
An estimated 300 members of MNLF are consolidating in Jolo, Sulu according to the AFP.
September 11, 2013: The Zamboanga City crisis enters its third day.
Mayor Climaco urges businesses in unaffected areas to open after a security brief with top Philippine officials. She also asked the public to avoid panic buying.
Gunfire exchanges resume between the MNLF and military forces in Barangay Sta. Catalina.
Sporadic gunfire continues between the MNLF and military, according to GMA reporter Ian Cruz, who is in an undisclosed area on the battlefield. The military is in a defensive position and grenade launchers were used by the MNLF earlier, he added.
There are now 13,000 people staying in the Zamboanga City sports stadium as evacuees keep streaming in from the affected areas.
At a press briefing, Roxas announces that the number of dead has risen to five, while the injured are now 36. Hostages are said to number around 100.
The United Nations releases a statement that they are not employing a certain “Daniel Xavier,” who is said to be in Zamboanga claiming to be a representative of the UN and promoting the MNLF's declaration of independence.
Roxas also announces an alternative flight service for Thursday, September 12, with flights to be made available to those whose flights were canceled due to the ongoing crisis.
In the same press briefing, Office of the Presidential Adviser on the Peace Process Secretary Teresita "Ging" Quintos-Deles says the government has not ignored the peace agreement signed between them and the Nur Misuari-led MNLF. Deles says Misuari has turned down all proposals approved by his representatives in three years.
Climaco announces that they are currently negotiating with the hostake-takers.
Two MNLF members are shot and arrested in Canelar, according to police. Other members of the group are being pursued.
A third fire breaks out in Santa Barbara village.
MNLF gunmen use hostages tied together by rope as human shields in Santa Barbara.
Barangay San Roque tanod Francisco Jun Vicente Macrohon, 54 years old, married, is killed "due to mistaken identity" in apparent connection with the crisis, while his son Archie is rushed to the hospital.
In a report on GMA News' 24 Oras, the MNLF said that they will not retract their forces, per Misuari's instructions. Fontanilla also accused Climaco of being prejudiced against the MNLF.
The government of Zamboanga City denied ownership of the Zambo News Update Facebook page, which it said posted bogus news updates of the crisis.
According to Zamboanga netizens, an explosion was heard in Baliwasan and as far as Sta. Maria and Pasonanca.
September 12, 2013: Zamboanga City crisis enters fourth day
The number of evacuees in Baliwasan Grandstand rises to 14,000.
Armed conflict spills over to Barangay Campo Uno in Lamitan City, Basilan, as Scout Rangers engage MNLF fighters in a firefight.
The military conducts an airstrike on MNLF position in Lamitan.
Hong Kong reiterates travel warning to discourage its citizens from travel to the Philippines amid the Zamboanga crisis.
MNLF Chairman Nur Misuari disowns the actions done by Habier Malik, leader of the MNLF group that took civilians hostage.
Zamboanga Mayor Climaco released a statement saying 6 of 98 barangays have been infiltrated by the MNLF Forces.
The barangays are Santa Catalina, Santa Barbara, Mampang, Talon Talon, Rio Hondo, and Canelar.
Another fire breaks out in Santa Barbara village.
The military engage MNLF forces with tanks.
The military conducts the fourth round of airstrikes against MNLF forces in Lamitan.
A large fire destroys houses along Lustre Street, Santa Catalina village.
The United Nations releases a statement saying they are ready to provide assistance to the affected civilians of the Zamboanga crisis.
The Commission on Human Rights says they are helping in efforts to negotiate with the MNLF.
Firefighters have a hard time responding to a fire incident that broke out in Sta. Barbara village after they are shot at by MNLF rebels.
The US announces that it has sent P26.4 million worth of aid for the Zamboanga crisis victims.
The military gains control of several areas in Zamboanga held by MNLF forces.
Malacañang warns MNLF forces that the government won't hesitate to use force to end the crisis.
The MNLF requests a ceasefire.
September 13, 2013: Crisis reaches fifth day
The MNLF releases Fr. Michael Ufana, the Catholic priest who was among the group's hostages.
The total number of evacuees swelled to 5,600 families or 24,880 people.
The AFP denies reports that some MNLF members have already surrendered.
President Benigno Aquino III arrives in Zamboanga to oversee efforts to end the crisis.
Clashes between the military and MNLF forces resume in Lamitan City. Forced evacuation is ordered in Barangays Bulanting, Colonia, Balobo and Cabobo.
Bro. Eddie Villanueva whose 2010 presidential campaign was supported by Misuari declined to help negotiate in ending the Zamboanga crisis.
The government announces that the meeting on Sept. 16 where a tripartite review of the implementation of the 1996 peace agreement between the MNLF and the government was postponed upon the request of Nur Misuari.
President Benigno Aquino III belies a Rappler report that said dozens of MNLF fighters have surrendered.
President Benigno Aquino III says he is not buying Misuari's alleged statement that he is disowning the actions of his men involved in the standoff. This, as the military announces that the death toll in the conflict has increased to 18, with 52 injured.
Three fire incidents are reported in Barangays Rio Hondo, Sta. Barbara and Sta. Catalina where military forces are pursuing MNLF rebels.
Red Cross announces the temporary pull out of their teams in Zamboanga after a mortar injures 11.
A group petitions to the Supreme Court to stop the Bangsamoro deal due to the violence in Zamboanga.
Vice President Binay announces that a ceasefire between Defense Secretary Gazmin and MNLF chairman Misuari was set to be implemented starting Saturday midnight.
September 14: Crisis reaches sixth day
Encounter in Brgy Kasanyangan results to one soldier killed, five soldiers
wounded, and four MNLF killed.
Zamboanga releases a statement citing the police operations division that there was no order of a ceasefire.
Clashes between the military and MNLF are still ongoing even after earlier claims of a ceasefire.
The death toll in the Zamboanga crisis shoots up to 52 including 43 from the side of the MNLF.
President Aquino III visits the evacuees and assures them that they are working on ending the crisis soonest.
Total number of evacuees reaches 39,260.
Lt. Col. Harold Cabunoc tweets that the leader of the MNLF ground forces, Ustadz Habier Malik may have already been killed.
VP Binay arrives in Zamboanga City to meet with President Aquino III and help with the operations.
The death toll is increased by one to 53 including 43 MNLF, 6 government forces and four civilians.
The government rejects Misuari's terms to a peaceful settlement.
September 15: Crisis reaches seventh day
The military contains MNLF forces in three barangays: Sta. Barbara, Sta. Catalina and Talon-talon.
Five hostages escape from the MNLF amid heavy military offensive.
Total evacuees reach 61,838.
Fire breaks out on Lustre street, where MNLF commander Habier Malik reportedly has his command post.
September 16: Crisis reaches eighth day
Another fire breaks out in Barangay Sta. Catalina, a conflict area.
The military launches a targeted air strike on MNLF positions.
Total MNLF killed based on PNP body count is 51. MNLF arrested now at 56.
Total evacuees reach 72,159.
Indonesia, which helped facilitate the 1996 peace pact between the government and the MNLF, says it is ready to mediate in the Zamboanga City standoff.
A mortar round, which hits a car, causes an explosion along Camino Nuevo and Nunez Extension.
Military says 26 hostages were freed.
September 17: Crisis reaches its ninth day
The NDRRMC said the Zamboanga crisis has affected 82,106 individuals.
At least 60 hostages were rescued from the MNLF, the military claims.
The MNLF disowned Monday night's bombing of two Davao theaters.
Total number of hostages released reaches 149.
Suspected MNLF rebels abduct the chief of Zamboanga City police.
The military says MNLF rebels are fleeing Zamboanga City.
Government forces claim that 70 percent of positions held by MNLF fighters have already been reclaimed.
Zamboanga City police chief Senior Superintendent Jose Chiquito Malayo and his three escorts were released by the MNLF after being captured earlier in the day.
Military forces retake KGK bldg. in Lustre St. in Barangay Sta. Catalina, believed to be the MNLF command post during the Zamboanga City siege.
The death toll reaches 90, with 72 from the MNLF side, officials say.
Zamboanga City police chief Jose Chiquito Malayo denies that he was abducted, saying he just negotiated with the MNLF to release their hostages and also to surrender.
September 18: Crisis reaches tenth day
A predawn firefight leads to capture of two MNLF fighters.
MNLF commander Habier Malik has been moving from house to house, says Lt. Col Ramon Zagala. Zagala also clarifies that there were no reinforcements for the MNLF.
Fire breaks out in Barangay Rio Hondo.
The number of evacuees increases to 110,000, according to the DSWD.
In a phone interview with GMA News Online, Fire Marshal Dominador Zabala said fire incidents in the city since the crisis began have burned 1,114 houses, with P12.612 million estimated damage to properties.
Death toll according to the military: 14 on government side, 83 rebels, seven civilians.
CAAP says some flights to and from Zamboanga City will resume Thursday. ETD/ETA to be announced.
The barangay-level elections in Zamboanga City may be postponed, according to the Comelec, as a result of the crisis. The elections are scheduled on October 28.
At a press conference, Interior and Local Government Secretary Mar Roxas says total number of hostages still with MNLF has been reduced to 21. He also says MNLF rebels involved in the Zamboanga crisis will be charged with rebellion.
September 19: Crisis reaches 11th day
Military officer is killed in clearing operations in Barangay Sta. Catalina.
The first commercial flight to Zamboanga City leaves from Manila after air travel was paralyzed for eleven days due to the crisis.
Fire breaks out in the residential area in Rio Hondo.
Another 15 MNLF fighters surrender in Barangay Sta. Catalina.
September 20: Crisis reaches 12th day
The government and the MNLF end the 40th round of exploratory talks for the Bangsamoro framework agreement.
An IED (Improvised Explosive Device) detonates in a bus station in Labuan, killing three, injuring one.
A report on state-run Philippines News Agency announces that the PNP has filed criminal charges against Habier Malik, an aide of Misuari, and at least 28 other followers of MNLF.
September 22: Crisis reaches 14th day
Philippine Army 7th Civil Relations Group commander Lt. Col. Harold Cabunoc said the AFP used portable loudspeakers to broadcast messages to Misuari's followers.
"Surrender is an honorable thing. We are Filipino brothers. We will respect your rights," the messages said, according to tweets by Cabunoc.
Children in Zamboanga evacuation centers are reported to have come down with illnesses including measles, upper respiratory tract infections, diarrhea, and skin diseases.
Zamboanga City Mayor Bing Climaco announces classes may finally resume on Wednesday in "non-critical" areas of the city.
Deputy presidential spokesperson Abigail Valte on Sunday says some of the followers of MNLF founding chairman Nur Misuari had responded to the flyers dropped by the military in MNLF-controlled areas of Zamboanga City urging them to surrender.
President Aquino flies back to Manila after spending nine days in Zamboanga City personally overseeing government efforts to mitigate the crisis there. In a press conference held before his departure, he said that the government will take legal action against Misuari for his siege on Zamboanga City.
September 23: Crisis reaches 15th day
The PNP says there are an estimated 15 hostages being held by the MNLF.
September 25: Crisis reaches 17th day
Thirty-six MNLF fighters including Ener Misuari, reportedly Nur Misuari's nephew, surrender to the military.
Malacañang assured the public that soldiers found looting Zamboanga City homes will face appropriate sanctions.
A total of 125 MNLF fighters have been killed, according to a military official. There were also 136 who have surrendered excluding the 36 who have surrendered earlier.
September 26: Crisis enters 18th day
Three MNLF fighters and two Marines were killed in a predawn clash in Barangay Rio Hondo.
Six more hostages were rescued from the MNLF rebels.
Fire broke out in Barangay Sta. Barbara. Also, the military said movements of the remaining members of the MNLF in the city were limited to a one-hectare area.
President Aquino paid his last respects to the three military officials who have been slain in the Zamboanga City crisis.
Zamboanga City Seaport was partially reopened after being closed since September 9.
Another 17 suspected MNLF fighters were taken into custody.
The death toll was at 154, including 121 MNLF fighters, 16 soldiers, five policemen and 12 civilians.
September 27: Crisis reaches 19th day
The Zamboanga port reopens, with Coast Guard Zamboanga saying there will be three layers of inspection for passengers of inbound vessels.
AFP tweets that 45 MNLF fighters under female commander Misba Baldji surrendered due to injuries and hunger. Baladji allegedly said she was promised P15,000 to go to Zamboanga City under the premise of a peace rally.
Government forces start closing in on MNLF Commander Habier Malik’s hiding place, after the commander allegedly sustained wounds in an earlier encounter.
MNLF spokesperson Rev. Absalom Cerveza says Malik sent a text message saying they are ready for whatever fate awaits them.
Political affairs undersecretary Chito Gascon theorizes that the Zamboanga crisis may actually have stemmed from a misunderstanding between the MNLF and the government regarding the termination of the tripartite review on the 1996 peace pact.
September 28: Crisis is declared over
After 20 days of conflict, the crisis is declared over by Defense Secretary Voltaire Gazmin through the AFP twitter account although Malik is still at large.
Bodies of fallen MNLF fighters are being checked to see if Malik is among the fatalities.
Latest tally: 167 MNLF rebels killed while 247 were arrested. The military lost 18 soldiers and with 167 others wounded. One the PNP, five were killed while 14 were wounded.
September 29: Curfew remains in some areas
IDs belonging to Malik are found on one deceased MNLF fighter, though the identity of the body is contested.
Mayor Climaco says curfew will still remain in critical areas.
September 30: City Hall reopens
Zamboanga City Hall resumes operations.
Security tightened in evacuation centers after reports of rape incidents.
One soldier, named Corporal Hakim Jaafar, and a MNLF rebel were killed during the military’s clearing operations in Barangay Sta. Barbara.
Four of five the MNLF commanding officers who lead the attack have either been killed, captured, or have surrendered, according to the military.
October 1: Clearing ops continue
PNP Deputy Director General Felipe Rojas Jr. says MNLF fighters who surrendered or arrested admitted that firearms and ammunition were stored in Zamboanga City as early as January this year.
In the same press conference, Rojas admitted that they do not have information on the whereabouts of Malik, but vows to hunt the MNLF commander down.
PNP chief Director General Alan Purisima recommended the postponement of barangay polls in the city for a thorough clearing operation, and for citizens to recover from the traumatizing three-week ordeal.
The city of Zamboanga has asked to be put under a state of calamity, after Mayor Climaco’s meet with the City Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Council.
October 2: Clearing ops continue
The NDRRMC announced that the damages sustained by the city amounts to P200,578,000, with 23,794 families or 118,819 people affected in 14 villages.
President Aquino III said the government is pondering placing a bounty on Misuari.
Social Welfare and Development Secretary Corazon Soliman said in a forum that the government is looking for ways to provide culturally appropriate houses for displaced Badjao families in Zamboanga.
October 3: Clearing ops continue
Local government offices in Zamboanga City are declared clear of explosives left by the MNLF.
The AFP forces that defended Zamboanga City from the MNLF advance leave the area. Their elite forces were given Gold Cross Medals for their gallantry. — with Rie Takumi and Amanda Fernandez/YA/BM/LBG/VC/RSJ/KDM/KG/KBK, GMA News
Editor's note: We will continue to update this timeline as events unfold in Zamboanga City.
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