23 MNLF men were invited to peace rally: Roxas
MANILA - The identities of 23 Moro National Liberation Front fighters who supposedly surrendered to Zamboanga police chief Jose Malayo are now being verified.
Interior and Local Government Secretary Mar Roxas said their photos will be shown to released hostages to confirm if those who surrendered took part in the attacks against government troops.
Roxas said the group was invited to join a peace march in Zamboanga but they were caught off guard when the firefight broke out.
"Sabi nga ni Commander Usong Ugong, nung nadinig na nila yung putukan hindi na sila tumuloy at in fact lumayo sila papuntang Barangay Mampang dun sa may pampang sa mangroves at naghintay sila ng baroto para makabalik sa Sasilan. Ayon sa kanila ay sila ay inanyayahan sumali sa peace march. Hindi nila alam na magkakaroon ng putukan dito. Ganun pa man lahat eto ay i-checheck at counter check," he said in an interview on ABS-CBN's Umagang Kay Ganda.
Roxas said the number of Habier Malik's group in Zamboanga City is down to around 50-70 men.
"Sa ngayon, more or less 50-70 estimate mga MNLF rogue under Commander Malik. Nandiyan pa din sila sa Sta. Barbara, Sta. Catalina in an area 2 or 3 hectares kalawak pero punong puno yan ng mga bahay. Madaming structures naka-contain sila diyan at nagkakaroon ng constriction," he said.