'23 MNLF rebels surrendered for food, not immunity'

by Jon Carlos Rodriguez, ABS-CBNnews.com

Posted at Sep 18 2013 07:18 PM | Updated as of Sep 19 2013 05:30 AM

MANILA – The 23 members of the Moro National Liberation Front (MNLF) who surrendered to Zamboanga police chief Sr. Supt. Jose Chiquito Malayo did not ask for immunity, Philippine National Police (PNP) deputy chief for operations Dir. Felipe Rojas Jr. said on Wednesday.

Rojas said the MNLF rebels only wanted food in exchange for their surrender.

He also said it is now up to the Department of Justice if they will file charges of rebellion against the rebels who surrendered.

“Ang hiningi lang nila ay pagkain dahil gutom na gutom na sila, several days na silang hindi kumakain,” Rojas told ANC’s “Top Story.”

Rojas said it wasn’t difficult for Malayo to convince the rebels to give up their weapons, because as the rebels told them, they did not go to Zamboanga to make trouble.

The group that surrendered to Malayo is reportedly from Basilan, while another group of MNLF rebels is from Jolo.

The Basilan group claimed that they were misled by MNLF Chairman Nur Misuari into coming to Zamboanga.

“Itong mga na-convince niya, from Basilan. Ang sinasabi nila they were misled into believing na ang pagpunta nila dito sa Zamboanga ay mag-parade at itaas ang bandera ng MNLF, tapos uuwi na sila. When they were told na ganoon ang nangyari, nagdalawang isip na sila. So hindi na mahirap kumbisihin na mag-surrender,” said Rojas.

Rojas lauded Malayo’s efforts in negotiating with the rebels, saying it is an “act of bravery.”

“Mahirap ang ginawa niya, he could’ve have been killed by the rebels. At the same time, 23 rebels ang naalis sa conflict area at 27 firearms ang naalis sa MNLF. So malaking tulong ito sa operation namin,” he said.

Authorities on Wednesday said at least 93 MNLF fighters have been captured by the military.