MANILA, OCT. 6 (SATURDAY) -- The leader of a military rebellion on the southern island of Mindanao surrendered early today, and the Philippine armed forces warned his followers that any continued resistance would be futile.
Military officials said the rebellion, which they described as part of a plot to overthrow the government of President Corazon Aquino, had been crushed, but it was not immediately clear whether all of the rebels had been rounded up.
Gen. Renato de Villa, the armed forces chief of staff, announced in a radio interview that cashiered Col. Alexander Noble surrendered unconditionally in the city of Cagayan de Oro at 3 a.m. (3 p.m. EDT Friday) to a legislator from the city, Sen. Aquilino Pimentel.
Pimentel, who supports Aquino, confirmed the surrender in a separate radio interview. He later said some of Noble's followers, who had been holed up in an army camp captured Thursday in Cagayan de Oro, were now in government custody. The leading civilian supporter of the rebellion, Reuben R. Canoy, also was arrested in Cagayan de Oro.
De Villa said, "I warn his other supporters who have not surrendered not to fight, because it's over. It will only do you harm if you continue to fight and to resist arrest." He said the rebels could surrender to a military commander, a civilian official or a priest.
Pimentel said Noble and another rebel colonel, Victor Erfe, surrendered to him at his house after they slipped out of Camp Evangelista in Cagayan de Oro, 500 miles southeast of Manila. He said the city was quiet and that he was waiting for a plane to take him and the rebel leaders to Manila.
"No conditions were attached to the surrender of the two rebel officers," said Lourdes Sitangco, a spokeswoman for Aquino.
Military officials said that after Noble and his followers seized two military camps in northern Mindanao on Thursday, other rebel officers were supposed to come to his support by launching attacks elsewhere in an attempt to overthrow the Aquino government. However, the officials said, the vast majority of the armed forces remained loyal to the government and the rebels were unable to move.
Military officials said loyalist troops recaptured a camp in the city of Butuan, about 70 miles east of Cagayan de Oro, after World War II-vintage planes bombed it Friday.
The raid on the lightly defended Camp Bancasi, home of the Philippine army's 402nd Infantry Brigade, destroyed the headquarters building, an armored personnel carrier and several trucks and sent the rebel occupiers fleeing, military officials said. At least one soldier in the camp was reported wounded. One of the pilots of the T-28 planes was killed when he crash-landed after an airstrike against a helicopter that had been used by the rebels.
Noble, who was a leader of a bloody coup attempt last December, and about 200 followers from the army's 53rd Infantry Battalion and northern Mindanao's Higoanon tribe took over the brigade headquarters in Butuan early Thursday with little resistance. They then drove to Cagayan de Oro, where they paraded through the streets to the cheers of townspeople before seizing Camp Evangelista, headquarters of the army's 4th Infantry Division, without firing a shot.
Along with Canoy, a civilian secessionist leader, the renegade colonel declared independence for a "Federal Republic of Mindanao" and appealed for foreign recognition.
Parts of Mindanao and islands to the southwest have been wracked by a Moslem secessionist rebellion since the 1970s that has left an estimated 50,000 people dead. That rebellion has been largely dormant in recent years. About 5 million of Mindanao's 15 million inhabitants are Moslems.
Despite the initial show of public support in Cagayan de Oro, there was little sign of widespread civilian or military backing for Noble's revolt. A number of local government officials in Mindanao issued statements denouncing the action.
Estimates of the rebels' strength ranged from 200 to 800. De Villa said Noble's followers had three armored vehicles, three 105mm howitzers, some recoilless rifles and three helicopters in their camp.