Hundreds of ex-rebels in Mindanao flown to Manila

Mick Basa
Hundreds of ex-rebels in Mindanao flown to Manila
On board a Philippine C-130, some 217 ex-members of the New People’s Army depart Davao City for Manila, where they will be toured around Intramuros, Malacañang, and other historic spots in the Northern Philippines

DAVAO CITY, Philippines – Hundreds of former communist guerillas in Mindanao were flown to Manila on Tuesday, February 6, to continue the military’s program to reintegrate them into mainstream society.

On board a Philippine C-130, some 217 ex-members of the New People’s Army departed Davao City’s old airport, where the military’s Tactical Operations Group 11 holds office.

Major Ezra Balagtey, public affairs officer of the Eastern Mindanao Command (Eastmincom), told media this on Tuesday. According to Balagtey, the former rebels were sent off at around 9:00 am.

“(They will) go on an educational tour in Manila and have a dinner with President Rodrigo Duterte at Malacanang on February 7, 2018 at 5 o’clock in the afternoon,” Balagtey said in an advisory.

The ex-guerillas were among 683 people presented to President Duterte in December last year at Eastmincom’s headquarters here.

At a previous press conference, Col. Ernesto Torres, commander of the 1003rd Infantry Brigade, said the surrenderees would be toured around Intramuros, Malacanang, and other historic spots in Northern Philippines.

This was an effort, Torres said, to tell the surrenderees a message that the Communist movement holds no relevance in post-revolution Philippines.

“The surrenderers will have an educational tour at Intramuros, Malacañang, and other historic places to awaken their nationalism prior to their scheduled dinner with the President,” Balagtey explained.

They will also be brought to a mushroom production farm in Bulacan “to help them get ideas on how to improve their lives and be self-sustaining.”

‘Fake surrenders’

Meanwhile, in a heavily-worded statement, the Valentin Palamine Regional Operations Command – Far South Mindanao Region (VPROC-FSMR) of the NPA warned of these surrenders which have been occurring since Duterte launched an all-out war against them.

Dencio Madrigal, VPROC-FSMR spokesperson, called these “fake surrenders.” They had, according to Madrigal, “become a means of the AFP and PNP officials to earn from the government’s amnesty program.”

“The unaware and vulnerable ‘surrenderees’ become their sources for pocketing the amnesty fund and livelihood assistance for the rebel returnees,” said Madrigal.

Among these surrenders, Madrigal questioned the recent turn over of NPA rebels in Sultan Kudarat this month. – 

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