Davao City, Philippines – Another group of Former Rebels (FR) broke bread with President Rodrigo Duterte in Malacañang Thursday afternoon, February 21, 2018.
The former rebels left Davao City to Manila via two Philippine Air Force C-130 on February 20.
Armed Forces of the Philippines, Chief of Staff General Rey Leonardo Gurrero, welcomed the group in a ceremony held at Camp Aguinaldo.
The second batch is composed of 241 FRs mostly from Compostela Province and Davao Del Norte. Thirty-eight of them are females while 203 are males. They are part of the 683 former New People’s Army (NPA) rebels from different parts of Eastern Mindanao that were presented to the President on December 21, 2017, at Panacan, Davao City.
Major Ezra Balagtey, spokesperson of the Eastern Mindanao Command said “the activity aims to give the FRs a better perspective in life, particularly in peacebuilding and nationalism. It is part of the government’s continuing activity of reintegrating the former rebels in the mainstream society.”
Part of their tour included the visit to historical Luneta Park and Intramuros.
In talking with the former rebels, Duterte emphasized the importance of peace in the country, he also thanked them for returning to the mainstream society.
Duterte has earlier asked the Technical Education and Skills Authority (TESDA), to help the returnees to a social integration program, acquire skills which would enable them to be productive and prepare them to engage in income generating projects to provide economy back in their homes.
The second batch of FRs’ tour is expected to conclude on February 22, 2018, as the FRs will return to Davao City via C-130 aircraft. The the schedule of the third batch of FRs will be determined later by the Appointments Office of the President.
It can be recalled that the first batch composed of 215 FRs were toured in Manila and had a dinner with the President last February 6-8, 2018.
On February 16, 2018, 50 of the 215 were enrolled to undergo Technical-Vocational Education Training with TESDA XI as part of their social integration program.
Meanwhile, Lt. Gen. Benjamin R. Madrigal Jr., Commander of the Eastern Mindanao Command reiterates “We are committed and more than willing to accommodate NPAs who want to return to the folds of the law and take part in building a nation of peace for progress and development. The programs lined up for the 683 FRs and the community programs being implemented in the different communities are manifestations of the social economic reforms being implemented by the government.”
Duterte earlier promised to establish a housing program in an effort to establish a resettlement area for the Indigenous Peoples of Mindanao.
The National Housing Authority (NHA) is already drafting the proposed IP Village which will be constructed in the different IP communities in Mindanao.
Earlier on, the Spokesperson of the CPP’s Far South Mindanao Command, Noel Legaspi and his wife Wendy Bendalian, surrendered and meet President Rodrigo Duterte on January 21
With the increasing number of rebels returning to the mainstream society, the government is hoping, that the rebel forces in the hinterlands will realize, that living in the mainstream society is the best place for them and their families, given the government support.-Editha Z. Caduaya/Newsline.ph
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