Led by Speaker Feliciano Belmonte Jr., the House of Representatives adopted last week a resolution providing financial aid to victims of the Zamboanga City crisis in the form of donations from members of the chamber of at least P10,000 each.
The donation, which is expected to reach close to P3 million, will be deducted from the salary of each of the 289 members of the House who volunteered to pitch in the financial assistance program for the crisis victims.
Belmonte said the resolution “recognizes the need for immediate aid and relief for the Zamboanga City crisis victims during this most difficult time of strife.”
House Resolution No. 03, principally authored by Belmonte, Majority Leader Neptali Gonzales II and Minority Leader Ronaldo Zamora, was approved last Wednesday by majority of the lawmakers, who said they were well aware that the current situation in Mindanao requires a timely response that transcends partisan politics.
"The House of Representatives hereby extends financial assistance to the victims of this crisis which has resulted in massive damage to property and infrastructure, and adversely affected the livelihood of the people of Zamboanga," said Belmonte, who is also the honorary chairperson of the National Unity Party (NUP).
The financial aid to the crisis victims followed an earlier condemnation by the House led by Belmonte over the violence taking place in Zamboanga instigated by the Nur Misuari-led faction of the Moro National Liberation Front (MNLF).
“Violence has never been a solution to what the MNLF admitted is a political problem. There is no need for casualties and to displace thousands of our people and disrupt their lives in an ironic fight with peace as supposedly the end product,” Belmonte said earlier.
According to the National Disaster and Risk Reduction Management Council, more than 82,000 people with 16,533 families from the 15 barangays have been affected by the crisis in Zamboanga, with thousands forced to flee their homes and seek shelter in evacuation centers within the city.
Last September 9, about 200 of Misuari’s followers stormed the coastal villages of Zamboanga City to raise their Bangsamoro flag. They took over the villages, seized dozens of residents as hostages and used them as human shields to thwart a military assault.
Fighting between government troops and the rebels continues to this day, leaving more than 100 people dead and dozens wounded.