MANILA – At least 40 Moro National Liberation Front (MNLF) fighters loyal to Nur Misuari surrendered to the military early morning Thursday.
Five of the MNLF fighters turned out to be minors aged 15 to 17. Some of the 40 rebels, who surrendered at around 4 a.m. today, were wounded and bruised. They claimed they were beaten up and maltreated by some soldiers before being turned over to the police.
An exclusive video of ABS-CBN News Zamboanga shows the MNLF rebels on board a vehicle bound for the Zamboanga City Police station.
One of the fighters, Elmar Madras, claimed they agreed to go to Zamboanga City after being promised jobs. Madras said they were forced to surrender after they ran out of ammunition and food.
Lt. Col. Ramon Zagala, Armed Forces of the Philippines public affairs office chief, earlier confirmed that several MNLF fighters surrendered today.
Zagala declined to provide information on the latest development but said the new batch of rebels are now being "processed."
On Wednesday, at least 36 MNLF fighters surrendered to the military. The group included MNLF commander Enir Misuari, who is believed to be a nephew of the founding chairman.
Recovered from the rebels who surrendered were 23 high-powered firearms, he said.
Lt. Col. Harold Cabunoc, Philippine Army's 7th Civil Relations Group commander, said Misuari's top commander, Ustadz Habier Malik, and two other men refused to surrender despite being "abandoned" by the others.
The conflict in Zamboanga City entered its 18th day today. The siege has already left dead 125 MNLF fighters, 15 soldiers, 5 policemen and 13 civilians.
Some 188 hostages are now safe. A report by dzMM's Noel Alamar said 6 more hostages were rescued today.
The government said it hopes to end soon the conflict which has affected the daily life of Zamboanga City residents as more MNLF fighters get neutralized and hostages rescued. – with eports fropm Liezel Lacastesantos, ABS-CBN News Zamboanga; and Noel Alamar, dzMM