By Martin Sadongdong
From living their lives in the mountains and far-flung villages, 88 communist rebels who surrendered to the military were treated to a four-day, all-expenses paid tour to Hong Kong which ended on Friday, the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) disclosed.
Lieutenant General Felimon Santos, commander of the AFP-Eastern Mindanao Command (EastMinCom), said the Hong Kong trip was a fulfillment of President Duterte’s promise to the former rebels.
Duterte had vowed to the rebel-returnees that he would bring them to Hong Kong to witness the economic development of the country during the “Former Rebels Assembly” in Davao City on December 21, 2017.
He reiterated this promise when the ex-rebels visited him in Malacañang in February 2018.
According to Santos, the purpose of the tour was to allow the former rebels to “experience life in a modern urban setting” and “provide them a better and another perspective in life.”
“The tour contributes in the continuing therapy and integration process for these beneficiaries as they slowly adapt to normal life,” Santos said.
The former rebels, composed of four males and 84 females, were undergoing an integration process after they surrendered to the military in different areas in eastern Mindanao, he added.
The EastMinCom chief said the former rebels visited some historical places and markets in Hong Kong. The tour was facilitated by the EastMinCom and the Presidential Management Staff (PMS).
Before the trip, the beneficiaries had to attend an orientation at the Philippine Army Grandstand in Fort Bonifacio, Taguig City.