For a Church official, the standoff between Nur Misuari supporters and government forces in Zamboanga City is an attempt to divert public attention from the pork barrel scam.
Retired Archbishop Oscar Cruz believes the ongoing firefight, which forced thousands to evacuate, has the go-signal of Malacanang officials.
“This will divert the attention of the people from the pork barrel,” Cruz said in the website of the Catholic Bishops' Conference of the Philippines (CBCP).
“There are people surrounding the president, who are very expert in these things,” Cruz added.
The Zamboanga crisis erupted while public outrage grows over a controversy linking dozens of lawmakers to bogus organizations led by Janet Lim Napoles.
The crisis came days before a massive prayer rally against the pork barrel system at the EDSA Shrine, the venue of the historic 1986 People Power Revolution; and while peace talks between the government and the Moro Islamic Liberation Front are being formalized.
Reports have linked the attack to MNLF leader Nur Misuari’s declaration of independence for Mindanao, criticizing the peace deal with the MILF.
Cruz now urges the public to keep their eyes on the pork barrel scandal.
“Don’t fall for it. Stick to this major issue of the abolition of the pork barrel system to safeguard public funds,” Cruz said.
“Before you know it, nobody will talk about the pork barrel anymore,” the archbishop warned.
The Philippines called on its Southeast Asian neighbours to unite in urging China to halt reclamation of land in the South China Sea, but the call failed to raise widespread support ahead of a regional summit. China claims 90 percent of the South China Sea, which is believed to be rich in oil and gas. Its claims overlap with those of Brunei, Malaysia, the Philippines, Vietnam and Taiwan. Recent satellite images suggest China has made rapid progress in filling in land in contested territory …