283 returnees to have dinner with Duterte in Palace today

TWO-HUNDRED seventeen of the 683 former members of the New People Army’s (NPA) who were presented to the Eastern Mindanao Command on Dec. 31 were sent off yesterday morning for their scheduled dinner with President Rodrigo Duterte in Malacanang.

The rebel returnees came from different units of EastMinCom and flew on a C-130 plane at the Tactical Operations Group XI at the old airport, Barangay Sasa.

Maj. Ezra Balagtey, spokesperson of EastMinCom, said the activity aims to encourage active participation of the former rebels in nation-building and peace-building. Their scheduled dinner is set for today, Feb. 7, around 5 p.m.

They will be welcomed around 8 a.m. today at the Tejeros hall in Camp Aguinaldo to be presided by AFP Chief of Staff Rey Leonardo Guerrerro.

Tomorrow, they will tour around Intramuros and other historic places to awaken their nationalism.

In coordination with Technical Education and Skills Development Authority, they will also be brought to the mushroom production and other farms in Bulacan to help them get ideas on best farming and business practices.

There will be two scheduled dinners for the 683 rebel returnees: first is with the AFP Chief of Staff Rey Leonardo Guerrero, and second with President Duterte.

“We also expect that the President will talk to them and update them on the progress of the programs that are being offered to them,” Col. Ernesto Torres, the spokesperson for Martial Law in Eastern Mindanao said.

Hopefully, he said, the rebel returnees will also be able to convince their former comrades to come down from the mountains.

“That’s how serious we are in increasing the awareness of our Lumad brothers who we know are victimized by the recruitment of the NPA,” he added.

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