DAVAO CITY (MindaNews / 06 March) – One hundred ninety alleged former rebels from Regions 12 and 13 (Caraga) were flown to Manila on Monday for a scheduled dinner with President Rodrigo R. Duterte in Malacañang and a tour around two historical sites, Rizal Park and Intramuros, on Tuesday.
They comprised the third batch of 683 alleged members of the New People’s Army (NPA) who surrendered last year, Major Ezra L. Balagtey, Eastern Mindanao Command (Eastmincom) public information office head, said in a statement.
They took two C-130 planes of the Philippine Air Force from the Davao City International Airport and Bancasi Airport in Butuan City.
Balagtey said the activity was part of the government’s effort to reintegrate the alleged surrenderees into the mainstream of society and give them a “better perspective in life.”
Armed Force of the Philippines (AFP) Chief of Staff General Rey Leonardo Guerrero is expected to welcome the surrenderees in Camp Aguinaldo before their tour around Manila and dinner with Duterte on Tuesday.
Guerrero was Eastmincom chief before he was named AFP Chief of Staff in October last year.
The alleged former rebels will return home on Wednesday.
The first batch of alleged surrenderees numbering 217 were flown to Manila on February 6 and the second batch composed of 241 individuals on February 20. All of them dined with the President in Malacañang and were taken on a tour around Manila.
Balagtey added the government is processing the documents of the former female returnees for a special travel to Hong Kong as promised to them by Duterte.
On November 23 last year, 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 organizations pursuant to Republic Act 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 (in this war), 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.
The NPA, which is waging the longest running communist insurgency in Asia, was formed on March 28, 1969. (Antonio L. Colina IV/MindaNews)