AFP welcomes new batch of NPA surrenderers

MANILA The Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) has welcomed 188 members of the New People's Army (NPA) and their supporters who have surrendered, prior to their meeting with President Rodrigo R. Duterte and other ranking military leaders in MalacaAang Tuesday.

All of them came from Mindanao, AFP public affairs office chief, Lt. Col. Emmanuel Garcia, said in a statement.

The welcome ceremony was led by AFP vice chief-of-staff, Lt. Gen. Salvador Melchor Mison Jr.

These surrenderers are part of the 683 former rebels who met the Chief Executive in Panacan, Davao City on Dec. 21, 2017 and the last of three batches to visit Metro Manila.

"The FRs (former rebels) were earlier toured to Luneta Park and Intramuros for their historical and heritage trip. The FRs will also get a chance to interact with other former NPA members who now work as advocates of peace and development," Garcia added.

The tour is expected to conclude on Wednesday as the FRs return to Davao City and Butuan City via a C-130 aircraft.

Garcia said the rebels consist of 537 males and 93 females who are 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 FR in the group is Noel Legaspi alias 'Ka Efren', who is the 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 15 January 2018," he added. 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 be having a special tour of Hong Kong on a date yet to be determined as their papers are being processed.

The tour is part of the AFP and the government's commitment to give the former rebels a feel of a peaceful way of life, which is different from the armed hostilities advocated by the NPAs and their leaders.

Source: Philippine News Agency