PCCI asks businesses in Zamboanga safe areas to open

The Philippine Chamber of Commerce and Industry (PCCI) appealed to businesses outside the conflict areas in Zamboanga City to open, saying that government forces have prevented the fight from spreading to other parts of the city.

In a statement, PCCI president Miguel Varela said "the crisis is contained in Zamboanga City" based on the its regional and provincial officials' assessment in Mindanao.

"The police and the military, likewise, have taken proactive steps to prevent the spread of the crisis in other areas,” he said.

Last week, Zamboanga Chamber of Commerce president Pedro Soliven said the city is "still volatile and [at a] standstill," appealing for food, medicine, toiletries, and other basic needs after being besieged by gunmen of the Moro National Liberation Front (MNLF).

Varela said the PCCI's assessments are based on consultations with the Zamboanga crisis management committee and regular meetings with the Philippine National Police, the military, and community and religious leaders in the city.

He said the organization has also contacted its own business networks, gone on site visits and fielded personnel to gather information.

“Aside from the consultations, our officials have also validated through their own observations and site visits that security outside the affected areas has been heightened to ensure that commercial offices, banks, telecommunications companies, shopping malls, factories, the airport and ports are safe,” Varela said.

Efforts to resolve the crisis remain unsuccessful, with both sides still locked in a firefight even after Vice President Jejomar Binay announced that MNLF chairman Nur Misuari agreed to a ceasefire.

On Monday, the Philippine Air Force launched an air strike, targeting areas where MNLF forces are concentrated.

Cebu Pacific cancels flights

With the Civil Aviation Authority of the Philippines (CAAP) extending the suspension of Zamboanga Airport operations, Cebu Pacific has cancelled flights from September 17 to 21.

The following flights were cancelled:
5J 851/852 Manila-Zamboanga-Manila
5J 855/856 Manila-Zamboanga-Manila
5J 859/860 Manila-Zamboanga-Manila
5J 857/858 Manila-Zamboanga-Manila
5J 433/434 Cebu-Zamboanga-Cebu
5J 393/394 Davao-Zamboanga-Davao
5J 839/840 Zamboanga - Tawi-Tawi - Zamboanga
5J 845/844 Cagayan de Oro - Zamboanga - Cagayan de Oro

"CEB hopes for its guests' understanding as this situation is beyond the airline's control. CEB will continue to provide updates as soon as available," the airline said in its advisory.

The Gokongwei-led airline said passengers affected by the cancellations may rebook flights with no penalties, or go for full refund.

Last week, rival Philippine Airlines cancelled its flights to and from Zamboanga City until September 21. — Danessa O. Rivera/BM, GMA News