Not all of them were there to fight.
Some Moro National Liberation Front (MNLF) members, women among them, were recruited to supposedly attend a peace rally in Zamboanga City in exchange for P10,000 but to their surprise, they were given weapons when they arrived, according to fighters who were either caught or who surrendered to authorities.
In a report on GMA News TV's "News To Go," Sandra Aguinaldo reported five MNLF gunmen – three of whom are women – were captured by government troops in an encounter in Barangay Sta. Barbara on Sunday.
Some of those captured said they ran out of ammunition while others were forced to join the Zamboanga operations but were kept in the dark as to why they were going there, said Major Bernard Clavecillas of the Armed Forces of the Philippines joint special operations group.
A female member who was captured introduced herself as a doctor and said she did not know the purpose of the trip to Zamboanga and was only brought along because of her line of work.
In a separate report by Chino Gaston also aired on GMA News TV's "News To Go," noted 35 MNLF members were in the custody of authorities since the start of the August 9 siege.
Among them was Udab, 19, of Talipao, Sulu. He said he was promised P10,000 for attending a flag-raising ceremony in Zamboanga. But when he and other recruits arrived in Sta. Barbara, they were given guns.
The military said they recovered three bodies of slain MNLF fighters. One was a woman from Basilan holding an Armalite rifle.
"Probably kulang na sila dun sa recruitment nila... Kailangan nila ng mas maraming personnel so they employed yung mga babae sa combat," said Lt. Col. Johnson Aceron of the Philippine Army.
Military snipers told GMA News they spotted female snipers in their encounters since the city was attacked.
In Aguinaldo's report, a resource person knowledgeable of MNLF forces noted the group had a number of trained female fighters and snipers. – Danessa Rivera/VS, GMA News