Philippine rebel chief: 30,000 rebels to be disarmed in deal

Al Haj Murad Ebrahim, Chair of the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF), the Philippines' largest Muslim rebel group, gestures during an interview with the Associated Press at the financial district of Makati city east of Manila, Philippines in this late Tuesday, July 18, 2017 photo. Murad said the Islamic State-linked militants wanted his group to broker their possible withdrawal from Marawi city during the major military offensive against them but he refused to intervene. Murad said the nearly two months of insurrection in Marawi is the worst he has seen in his more than four decades as a rebel in the country's south. The militants in Marawi are now wracked by infighting and have expressed through religious emissaries they are ready to fight to the death.(AP Photo/Bullit Marquez)

MANILA: The leader of the largest Muslim rebel group in the Philippines says 30,000 to 40,000 armed fighters will have to be “decommissioned” if an autonomy deal that is expected to be signed by the president is fully enforced.

Al Haj Murad Ebrahim of the Moro Islamic Liberation Front told reporters on Tuesday that six of the largest guerrilla camps in the south were being converted into “productive civilian communities” to help the insurgents return to normal life.

Murad appealed to the international community to contribute to a trust fund to be used to finance the insurgents’ transition from decades of fighting.

Murad welcomed the ratification by the Philippine Congress of the autonomy deal, which is to be sent to President Rodrigo Duterte for signing in a day or two.