DAVAO CITY (MindaNews / 21 Feb) – Another batch of alleged former New People’s Army (NPA) rebels were flown to Manila on Tuesday morning for a scheduled dinner with President Rodrigo R. Duterte on Wednesday in Malacañang and a tour around Rizal Park and Intramuros in Manila.
Major Ezra L. Balagtey, Eastern Mindanao Command (Eastmincom) public information office head said in a statement that 241 alleged surrenderees were flown to Manila via two Philippine Air Force C-130 planes from the Davao City International Airport.
Comprising 38 females and 203 males, they were among the 683 persons who reportedly surrendered last year within the jurisdiction of the Eastmincom, Balagtey said.
He added the activity is part of the government’s efforts to reintegrate former rebels in the mainstream of society by providing them a better perspective, including peacebuilding and nationalism.
Before the tour around historical and heritage sites, the surrenderees will be welcomed by Armed Forces of the Philippines Chief of Staff General Rey Leonardo Guerrero in Camp Aguinaldo and meet former NPA members who are working as advocates of peace and development before the dinner with Duterte in Malacañang.
Balagtey said they will return to Davao on Thursday.
From February 6 to 8, 215 surrenderees were also taken on a tour around Manila, visited a mushroom production site in Bulacan, and dined with the President. The schedule for the third batch has yet to be arranged.
The first batch of surrenderees underwent trainings by the Technical Vocational Education and Skills Development Authority as part of the social integration program.
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 RA No. 10168, also known as the Terrorism Financing Prevention and Suppression Act of 2002. (Antonio L. Colina IV/MindaNews)