Zamboanga attack as diversionary tactic for 'pork' scam? Two lawmakers think so

Government troopers continue their assault on Muslim rebels, Sept. 12, 2013, in Zamboanga city, a "Subanon" Territory of the southern Philippines

Two party-list lawmakers on Monday urged the government to monitor the activities of the people behind the alleged pork barrel scam, saying any one of them could be a financier of the rebel attack in Zamboanga City.

"We can say that the financier might come from the people involved in the PDAF (Priority Development Assistance Fund) scam," said Magdalo party-list Rep. Gary Alejano at a press conference.

"In my own opinion, the people involved in the PDAF scam will not take this issue sitting down. The government should consider counteractions and monitor the activities of the people involved," he added.

Citing unnamed sources, Alejano and fellow Magdalo party-list Rep. Francisco Ashley Acedillo said at least 40 million was poured to Moro National Liberation Front (MNLF) for the Zamboanga siege.

Over a hundred people, most of them MNLF rebels, were killed in the two-week-long crisis that started September 9 when MNLF rebels loyal to founding chairman Nur Misuari attacked several villages and held several civilians hostage.

The two lawmakers declined to identify their sources or give clues as to the identity of the alleged benefactor of the fund, saying the media might be able to quickly narrow down the list.

Acedillo said a suspect in the pork barrel scam may have seen an opportunity in Misauri's reported displeasure at being left out in peace negotiations to launch a diversionary tactic.

"I think they saw an opportunity here because between that and funding another group to destabilization group, this is more urgent and this presented a distinct opportunity for them," he said.

"What I've said is, without going to the extent of concluding a grand conspiracy, this was a clear opportunity for them," Acedillo added.

The Magdalo lawmakers, both of them former military officers, challenged the government to investigate any leads that may show somebody related to the PDAF scam orchestrating the Zamboanga crisis, noting that other individuals in the past have used similar diversionary tactics to confuse the public.

"This is a challenge for the government to investigate this. If you remember in the previous administration when they are big issues here in NCR [National Capital Region] there are diversion issues in other areas," said Alejano, who was part of the group of soldiers that rebelled against the Arroyo administration, without elaborating.

— Patricia Denise Chiu/KBK, GMA News

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