683 ex-rebels to dine with PRRD, AFP chief

Around 700 members of the New People’s Army (NPA) who surrendered in December last year will get the opportunity to have dinner with President Rodrigo Duterte in Malacanang.

Col. Ernesto Torres, the commander of 1003rd Infantry (Raptor) Brigade  and also the newly appointed spokesperson of Martial law in Eastern Mindanao, said the 683 identified rebel returnees coming from the different battalions of Eastern Mindanao Command will be flown to Manila as part of their educational tour.

“So we expect that  the objective of what we call the educational tour is to  encourage active participation  of our former rebels  in nation- and peace-building,” he said.

The brigade commander said the former rebels will be brought to Manila in three batches (more than 200 per batch) from Feb. 6 to 10, 2018 via C-130 Air Force plane while the other two batches will be announced later.

“For the first batch there will be more than 200 they will be transported using C-130 and they will be housed and billeted … accommodation will be provided,” he said.

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 in Malacanang.

“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,” Torres said.

“This will be  sense of history because they will be toured to Intramuros, Malacanang  and other  historic spots in the Philippines,” he added.

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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