MANILA Speaker Pantaleon Alvarez on Thursday expressed hope for more rebels to return to the fold of law following the surrender of influential rebel leader Datu Guibang Apoga and 150 tribal warriors.
According to a press statement, Alvarez helped in the negotiations for the return to the fold of law of Apoga, who waged a rebellion for 28 years.
Alvarez said there are 700 more combatants expected to follow Apoga's example. He said the rebel leader decided to surrender after seeing the sincerity of the Duterte administration in addressing the concerns of the lumad people.
He (Apoga) also urged other tribe members who are still waging armed rebellion to follow his example, Alvarez said.
The influential rebel leader from the Ata Manobo tribe made the formal surrender and symbolic turn-over of his firearm to the military officials, Brig. Gen. Ernesto Torres Jr. and Lt. Col. Edwin Paredes, at Talaingod town in Davao del Norte.
Alvarez said it is proper for the government to help the tribal rebels because they were fighting for a just cause.
Apoga led a resistance against logging operations to protect their ancestral land.
In a separate media interview, Alvarez noted that Apoga's demands are very simple unlike other rebel groups that lay down unrealistic conditions.
"Simple lang po, in fact I already committed to deliver sa kanila yun. Basically po yung mga basic services lang talaga kaya po nakita ko naman na hindi po mahirap tugunan hindi kagaya nung mga dini-demand nung Joma Sison na gusto nya siya na magpatakbo ng gobyerno.([The demand] is just simple. In fact, I already committed to deliver it to them. Basically, it's just basic services, which I think is not that hard to provide unlike the demands of [Communist Party of the Philippines founder] Joma Sison who wants to run a government)," Alvarez said.
"Ito ho talagang with all sincerity yun talagang genuine concern na ma-address ng gobyerno (The [demand of Apoga] is a genuine concern, with all sincerity, that the government must address)," he added.
Alvarez provided the former rebels with livelihood assistance, construction materials, and a multi-cab for emergency use. (PNA)
Source: Philippine News Agency