By Francis T. Wakefield and Yas D. Ocampo
The second batch of former rebels, who will dine with the President in Malacañang flew to Manila yesterday via two Philippine Air Force (PAF) C-130 aircraft from the Davao City International Airport.
The group was composed of 241 former members of the New People’s Army (NPA), mostly from Compostela Province and Davao Del Norte. Thirty-eight of them are women.
They are part of the 683 former 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.
Balagtey said the activity aims to give the surrenderers a better perspective in life, particularly in peace-building and nationalism. It is part of the government’s continuing activity of reintegrating the former rebels in the mainstream society.
He said the group will also be given a tour of Luneta Park and Intramuros, Manila, 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 phase of the tour is expected to conclude on February 22 before they return to Davao City via C-130 aircraft.
The first batch composed of 215 former rebels were given a tour of Manila, and shared a meal with the President last February 6 to 8.