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By Bong Reblando and Mike U. Crismundo
Manila Bulletin

GENERAL SANTOS CITY - A Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) leader and his follower, whose group raided two villages in Kiamba, Sarangani last Saturday but were injured in a fierce gun battle by pursuing police and Army troops surrendered Wednesday to the authorities.

Chief Supt. Felizardo Serapio Jr., Central Mindano police chief, identified the rebel leader as Rico Watamama, deputy chief of the 107th Base Command of the MILF and Nasser Bancil, a rebel cadre and aide of Watamama.

On the government side, two soldiers of the 25th Infantry Battalion under Major Roland Rodil identified as Private First Class Ebenzer Libres and Private Judy Galves were also wounded in the firefight that took place in Barangay Gasi, Kiamba.

He said Watamama and Bancil apparently were disgusted to find out that they were abandoned by their leader Commander Alo Binago and would die soon if they did not surrender to seek medical treatment for their injuries.

"More rebels are contemplating to yield to the authorities because of the wounds they got during the fierce fighting with soldiers and police forces. Just like Watamama and Bancil, they were also left unattended by Commander Binago," Serapio said.

Watamama and Bancil were among the 40 heavily armed guerrillas of the 104th and 107th Base Commands who attacked Saturday the Kling plantation owned by the family of Cong. Erwin Chiongbian and Vice-Gov. Steve Chiongbian Solon of Sarangani.

Two of the plantation employees - security guard Jupiter Pequiro and lady worker Gloria Lyn Barrientos – were also wounded in the attack as the rogue MILF rebels fired rocket propelled grenade launchers to Chiongbian’s plantation in Barangay Kling, Kiamba shortly before midnight last Friday.

Though wounded, Pequiro managed to fire back at the rebel band and engaged the insurgents in a firefight enabling other plantation guards to reinforce him and put up a fight, foiling the rebels’ plan to enter the plantation.

Commander Alo Binago is a field commander of fugitive Ustadz Amelil Umbra Kato, 105th MILF Base Command chief, who also attacked nearby Maasim town in August looting stores and a pharmacy at the public market and attacked the town hall and police station but failed when local policemen fought back and stood their ground.

Kiamba police chief Inspector Alex Joe Orcajada said reinforcing police forces failed to engage the rebels in a gunfight, where attackers quickly withdrew towards Barangay Gasi, one of whom was identified by plantation workers who witnessed the firefight.

From Kling, the rebels proceeded to Barangay Gasi and torched five buildings there, including a day-care center, the barangay hall, a multi-purpose stage, and a "Tindahan sa Kalinaw" or Peace Store.

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