By Francis T. Wakefield
The Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) said a total of 188 former New People’s Army (NPA) rebels and supporters from Mindanao arrived yesterday at Camp Aguinaldo in Quezon City to meet the top officers of the military and for their turn to visit President Duterte in Malacanang.
AFP Vice Chief of Staff Gen. Salvador Melchor Mison Jr., led the welcome ceremony for the former rebels who are part of a group of 683 former rebels who met with the Chief Executive in Panacan, Davao City, on December 21, 2017 and the last of three batches to visit Metro Manila.
The former rebels were earlier toured to Luneta Park and Intramuros for their historical and heritage trip. They will also get a chance to interact with other former NPA members who now work as advocates of peace and development.
The tour is expected to conclude today as they return to Davao City and Butuan City via C-130 aircraft.
The former rebels are composed 537 males and 93 females who were former regular NPA members, Militia ng Bayan, underground mass organizations members, and mass supporters from Compostela Valley, Davao Del Sur, Davao Del Norte, Agusan, Surigao, and nearby provinces.
The most notable in the group is Noel Legaspi alias Ka Efren, former deputy secretary and spokesman of the Far South Mindanao Region (FSMR) of the NPA. He surrendered with his wife, a medical staff of FSMR, on January 15, 2018.
Ka Efren became a leader of the leftist youth organization League of Filipino Students in 1992 and became a regular member of the NPA six years later.
The AFP Eastern Mindanao Command also reported that females who are part of the 683 FRs will have a special tour to Hong Kong in a date yet to be determined while their papers are being processed.