By Francis Wakefield
The second batch of Former Rebels (FR) who will dine with the President in Malacañang flew to Manila Tuesday via two Philippine Air Force (PAF) C-130 aircraft at the Davao City International Airport.
The group is composed of 241 FRs mostly from Compostela Province and Davao Del Norte. Thirty-eight of them are females while 203 are males. They are part of the 683 former New People’s Army (NPA) rebels from different parts of Eastern Mindanao that were presented to the President on December 21, 2017, at Panacan, Davao City.
Armed Forces of the Philippines-Eastern Mindanao Command (AFP-EastMinCom) spokesman Major Ezra L. Balagtey, said
the rebel returnees are set to dine with the Chief Executive in Malacanang today (Wednesday).
Balagtey said the activity aims to give the FRs a better perspective in life, particularly in peacebuilding and nationalism. It is part of the government’s continuing activity of reintegrating the former rebels in the mainstream society.
He said part of their tour will be a historical and heritage trip to Luneta Park and Intramuros while a welcome ceremony will be held at Camp Aguinaldo to be hosted by AFP chief of staff General Rey Leonardo Guerrero.
Prior to their dinner with the President, they will also get a chance to interact with other former NPA members who now work as advocates of peace and development.
The second batch of FRs’ tour is expected to conclude on February 22, 2018, as the FRs will return to Davao City via C-130 aircraft. The the schedule of the third batch of FRs will be determined later by the Appointments Office of the President.
It can be recalled that the first batch composed of 215 FRs were toured in Manila and had a dinner with the President last February 6-8, 2018.
On February 16, 2018, 50 of the 215 were enrolled to undergo Technical-Vocational Education Training with TESDA XI as part of their social integration program.
Meanwhile, Lt. Gen. Benjamin R. Madrigal Jr., Commander of the Eastern Mindanao Command reiterates the willingness and openness of EMC to assist NPAs who are willing to surrender.
“We are committed and more than willing to accommodate NPAs who want to return to the folds of the law and take part in building a nation of peace for progress and development. The programs lined up for the 683 FRs and the community programs being implemented in the different communities are manifestations of the social economic reforms being implemented by the government,” Madrigal Jr. said.