Ten Muslim separatist rebels surrender in southern Philippines

Other News Materials 3 February 2009 12:19 (UTC +04:00)

Ten Muslim separatist rebels surrendered to the armed forces in a southern Philippine province, the military said Tuesday.

The Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) rebels turned themselves over to the army in Lanao del Norte province, 810 kilometres south of Manila, on Monday, said Lieutenant Colonel Ernesto Torres, reported dpa.

Torres said the guerrillas fought under MILF commander Abdullah Macapaar, alias Bravo, who is blamed for leading a series of deadly attacks in the southern region of Mindanao in August 2008.

"Apparently, Bravo's failed promises, including a monthly allowance of 30,000 pesos (638 dollars) to each rebel, were among the reasons why the rebels opted to surrender," he said.

Torres added that the rebels told authorities that they were "tired" of fighting and realized that there was no future in continuing to follow Bravo.

Colonel Benito De Leon, an army commander, said those who surrendered volunteered to help the military hunt down Bravo.

"They volunteered to help us pinpoint the lairs and areas that Bravo frequents," he said. "Hopefully we could get him."

De Leon said the former followers of Bravo told authorities that the rebel commander was "hurt" but it was not clear if his condition was a result of being wounded in a military operation or an illness.

"Since the series of military operations following the atrocities in August 2008, Bravo has become paranoid and does not let anyone near him," he added.

Bravo is one of three MILF commanders who led deadly attacks in August 2008 to protest the non-signing and scrapping of a key agreement that would have expanded an existing Muslim autonomous region in Mindanao.

More than 200 people were killed in the rebel attacks and subsequent fighting with government troops. The hostilities also forces more than 500,000 people to flee their homes.

The fighting stalled peace talks between the Philippine government and the MILF, the largest Muslim rebel group fighting for a separate Islamic state in Mindanao.

While the government has prepared to resume the talks with the MILF, the rebel group has expressed reluctance to return to the negotiating table unless the scrapped agreement was revived.