A Philippine marine general said Sunday that he and 19 others were being "virtually held as hostages" by Muslim rebels demanding the full enforcement of a 1996 peace accord, but that they were set to be released within hours.
Brig. Gen. Ben Dolorfino and his group had traveled to a remote hinterland camp of the Moro National Liberation Front on the southern island of Jolo on Friday for talks with rebel leader Habier Malik, but were not allowed to leave later that day as planned.
"Yes, we were virtually held as hostages, but we were treated well," Dolorfino told The Associated Press by cell phone. "We were used as leverage."
Malik separately told The AP by phone that he had agreed to let Dolorfino's group leave his camp later Sunday after being assured that a meeting would be hosted by the Organization of Islamic Conference to discuss the full enforcement of the 1996 accord.