DAVAO CITY (MindaNews / 07 Feb) — Two hundred seventeen alleged members of the New People’s Army (NPA) who were reported to have surrendered to government were flown to Manila Tuesday morning for a two-day “educational tour” and dinner with President Rodrigo Duterte at the Malacañan Palace, the Eastern Mindanao Command (Eastmincom) said.
The NPA surrenderers were sent off at 9 a.m. on Tuesday at the Tactical Operation Group 11 in Sasa where they boarded a C-130 aircraft for Manila, Maj. Ezra L. Balagtey, chief of the Eastmincom’s Public Information Office said in a text message.
Balagtey said all 683 NPA surrenderers within Eastmincom’s jurisdiction will all have the chance to meet and dine with the President in Malacanang but schedules have yet to be arranged for the other batches. The 217 flown to Manila Tuesday represents the first batch who will dine with the President on Wednesday.
He said a welcome ceremony has been prepared for them at 8 a.m. at the Tejeros Hall in
Camp Aguinaldo in Quezon City, presided by Armed Forces of the Philippines chief of staff General Rey Leonardo Guerrero. Guerrero was Eastmincom chief before he was named AFP Chief of Staff in October last year.
Before proceeding to Malacanang, Balagtey said, the NPA surrenderers will be taken on an educational tour at the Intramuros and other historical sites “to awaken their nationalism” in order to encourage their active participation in nation- and peace-building.
He added that they will also visit the mushroom production and other farms in Bulacan in coordination with the Technical Education and Skills Development Authority to help them get livelihood ideas to become self-sustaining as part of the government’s Comprehensive Local Integration Program.
Balagtey said they will return home on February 9.
On November 23 last year, President Duterte issued Proclamation 360, calling off the peace talks with the National Democratic Front (NDF), two days before the supposed fifth round of formal peace negotiations on November 25 to 27 in Oslo, Norway. The NDF represents the Communist Party of the Philippines (CPP) and the NPA in the talks.
On December 5, Duterte issued Proclamation 374 declaring the NPA and the CPP as terrorist organization pursuant to RA No. 10168, also known as the Terrorism Financing Prevention and Suppression Act of 2002.
Duterte has yet to disband his peace panel.
On January 22, Duterte ordered his troops to “destroy the NPA, destroy the organization.”
“Just like drugs, dito sa giyerang ito, destroy the NPA. Destroy the organization,” he told his troops in Camp Manuel Yan in Mawab, Compostela Valley, as he called on the NPA guerrillas to “surrender.”
“Mag-surrender na lang kayo, bigyan ko kayo ng trabaho, automatic may pera pa kayo” (Just surrender and I will give you employment and money), he said. (Antonio L. Colina IV / MindaNews)