MNLF gunmen surrender to Zambo police chief
MANILA (3rd UPDATE) – Moro National Liberation Front (MNLF) rebels have surrendered to a police official who was earlier reported to have been abducted by them on Tuesday morning.
Senior Supt. Jose Chiquito Malayo and his companions were negotiating for the surrender of MNLF rebels when he lost contact with other police officials.
It happened while Malayo, officer-in-charge of the Zamboanga police, was reaching out to MNLF rebels in Areno Blanco, Barangay Mampang, following a clash, according to police Deputy Director-General Felipe Rojas, Jr.
The incident happened during a lull in the fighting, said Rojas.
Official reports said Malayo and his companions were abducted and rescue operations were later launched.
Malayo surfaced Tuesday night, with 23 MNLF members in tow.
Interior Secretary Mar Roxas said Malayo was able to convince the 23 MNLF fighters, who allegedly came from Basilan, to surrender.
Malayo, however, neither confirmed nor denied that he was held hostage by the rebels.
Malayo said he negotiated with the fighters, led by a certain Commander Usung, who said the fighters surrendered because they wish to return to their camp in Basilan.
Malayo added that the fighters who surrendered claim they are not part of the standoff and never engaged in a gunfight with government troops.
Misled by Misuari?
Armed Forces spokesperson Lt. Col. Ramon Zagala said Commander Ugong told authorities that instructions given to them by MNLF chairman Nur Misuari were to march to city hall and raise their flag.
The commander said they were surprised when fighting erupted in the city.
“He said Misuari told him that they we’re coming here for a peaceful rally and that they were surprised when the action was like that. They decided to go to the mangrove areas and hide until they’ve decided on what to do next,” Zagala told ANC’s “Prime Time.”
“He said their group was deceived,” Zagala added.
Roxas, meanwhile, said authorities will investigate their claims.
“Nakita naman natin na talagang gutom, mahina at wala ‘yung parang makikipag-away sila, dahil ayon sa kanila, pumunta sila dito para sa isang mapayapang rally,” said Roxas.
“Ipinaliwanag na dadaan sila sa proseso. Noong napagusapan ang pagsasampa ng kaso, pinilit nila na hindi sila kabahagi ng putukan, sila daw ay tahimik na nag-iintay sila ng speedboat papuntang Basilan, ‘yun lamang, nagkaroon ng putukan kaninang umaga,” he added.
The 23 fighters were brought to the Western Mindanao Command headquarters in Zamboanga to undergo investigation. -- With reports from Jorge Cariño, ABS-CBN News; RJ Rosalado and Queenie Casimiro, ABS-CBN News Zamboanga; Edwin Sevidal, dzMM