by Yas Ocampo
DAVAO CITY – The Eastern Mindanao Command (EastMinCom) will be flying the third batch of rebel reformists to Manila to meet and dine with President Rodrigo Duterte on the first week of March, according to the EastMinCom spokesperson Maj. Ezra Balagtey.
The third batch will be flown from Davao City onboard a C130 aircraft and will also be given a tour of Manila, like the first two batches of NPA surrenders.
More than 600 NPA members have surrendered to the EastMinCom.
The third batch include former rebels coming from the Caraga and Davao del Sur areas.
Balagtey, meanwhile, downplayed accusations that the former rebels were not NPA members at all.
“First of all, you must verify the source of information,” Balagtey said.
The former rebels will be sent to Manila from March 6 to March 8.
The first batch of 215 former rebels were sent to Manila last February 6 to 8, while the second batch followed suit a few days later.
The first two batches were rebel returnees coming from Compostela Province, Davao del Norte, among other areas.
The military has attributed the mass surrenders of rebels to President Duterte’s declaration of the status of the NPA as a terrorist group.
Earlier this week, Philippine National Police (PNP) Director Gen. Ronald dela Rosa accused the NPA of being involved in kidnap-for-ransom schemes.