AFP denies MNLF rebels surrendered
MANILA – The Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) on Friday denied a report that several Moro National Liberation Front (MNLF) rebels under Nur Misuari surrendered to the government.
"No members of MNLF-Misuari group surrendered last night. We're still negotiating," said AFP Spokesperson Lt. Col. Ramon Zagala.
"We will continue all steps to protect our people. There are still up to 180 hostages."
Zagala: No members of MNLF-Misuari group surrendered last night. We're still negotiating.
— Team AFP (@TeamAFP) September 13, 2013
Speaking to ANC, Zagala said the military is still in the process of negotiating with the Misuari group. He said the lines of communication between the military and the rebels are now open.
"I believe that the line of communication has been opened and our honorable Mayor Beng Climaco is on top of the situation. She is exhausting all efforts. Even the AFP, we are very willing, ready and able to undertake any military solution if needed. But of course, that's the last thing we want. What we want is to exhaust all peaceful means. We are very hopeful it will progress more within the day," he said.
"Although our mission is containment, that doesn't stop us from doing our duty in protecting our people. We will continue to conduct necessary calibration needed to further protect our people although we are paving the way for negotiations," he added.
He said the AFP was still confirming reports that 20 members of MNLF-Misuari group have been killed.
The military earlier confirmed that Fr. Michael Ufana, who was held hostage last Monday, has been released.
Zagala said Ufana is now undergoing stress debriefing and being given medical attention.
President Benigno Aquino III is now in Zamboanga City to assess the situation on the ground, according to Presidential Communications Secretary Ricky Carandang.