MANILA, Sept 30 (Reuters) - The largest Muslim separatist group in the Philippines has disowned a rogue commander who opposes peace talks with the government, removing his immunity from arrest and raising the risk of an increase in violence on Mindanao island.
Ustadz Ameril Umbra Kato, who was blamed for an outbreak of fighting in 2008 and formed a splinter rebel group late last year, has rejected overtures to rejoin the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF), political officer Ghadzali Jaafar said.
"We decided that he is no longer with us," Jaafar told reporters in Mindanao, adding Kato, who has outstanding arrest warrants for murder and arson, would no longer be covered by the ceasefire agreement between the government and the MILF.
There has been fighting between Kato's Bangsamoro Islamic Freedom Movement and the MILF in recent months.
The MILF has been negotiating with government to end more than four decades of conflict that has killed 120,000 people, displaced 2 million and hobbled growth in the poor but resource-rich Muslim areas in the south.
A ceasefire has prevented security forces from going after Kato's forces, because they could violate the truce by entering into MILF-held areas in the south.
Brigadier-General Ariel Bernardo, head of the government's ceasefire panel, said any military and police action against Kato would be coordinated with the MILF, because the renegade forces operate in areas where there are MILF members.
"The military held its punches against Kato's group because of the ceasefire mechanism," Bernardo said, adding the armed forces did not want to jeopardise peace negotiations.
He said the MILF was now bound to help track down Kato under another mechanism allowing cooperation and coordination to interdict and arrest lawless elements.
Marvic Leonen, head of the government's peace panel, has said the breakaway group was a serious threat to peace negotiations.
Talks in Malaysia had been stalled since August after rebel leaders rejected an autonomy proposal from government. The rebels had demanded the creation of a sub-state in the south.
(Reporting By Manny Mogato; Editing by John Mair and Ed Lane)