MILF leader in Lanao Norte surrenders to Army

Hadji Ali Batua Gandamatu, 55, MILF's political affair officer in Lanao del Norte also surrendered his MP9 rifle attached with a silencer to Col. Benito de Leon, commanding officer of the 104th Infantry Brigade based in Ditucalan of this city.

The Army said Gandamatu was responsible in providing financial support to the MILF in the province.

The Army said that Gandamatu "defected" from MILF and first surrendered to Pantaoragat's municipal Mayor Eleanor Lantud, who also enforced a localized policy of "sanitizing her town of rebels' presence."

Lantud said Gandamatu surrendered "because of difficulties of life in-a-run and have decided to return to our town to live peacefully."

Gandamatu was also identified as "chairperson of Saber-sa-Radapan province based on MILF's political map.”

De Leon said "Gandamatu swore on a Koran not to involve himself again in any MILF-related activities."

He said the Army was also happy that local officials contributed in sustaining peace in the area. "Apparently, his surrender will significantly reduce financial support to MILF," he said.

"There is no use of putting him inside a stockade to give him a free hand to encourage others to surrender," he added.

Gandamatu was accompanied by his family and relatives when he surrendered to the brigade at 6 p.m. on February 12.

While he can roam around freely, Gandamatu will be regularly monitored by Pantaoragat's municipal police office.

De Leon declined to divulge the name of ten other MILF rebels who surrendered February 3 "to protect their families from any harm because they are now involved in the manhunt to locate commander Abduhraman Macapaar a.k.a. Bravo".

"The MILF is just inducing me to reveal the names of these surrenderees to jeopardize our operation," he said.

He added that there were six MILF who surrendered last February 2 which was headed by Cosain Aziz Mosis, a 'commanding officer of  3rd Batallion of 212 Infantry Brigade of 101st Base Command. They surrendered to Lt. Jed G. Motus of the 65th IB based in Gadungan of
Madalum town of Lanao del Sur. They were identified as Abdul Mosis Angni, Abolcair Madid, Arsad Mosis Angni,  Nage Buatan Mamiscal, Usman Mipangcat Mosis,  and CosainMosis. They also surrendered their weapons.

De Leon credited Samad Tantao, vice mayor of Madalum in facilitating the surrender of the MILF rebels. (Violeta M. Gloria/MindaNews)