SEVEN hundred former members of the New People Army's (NPA) are set to fly to Manila in February to have a dinner with President Rodrigo Duterte.
This is to show that the National Government is sincere in helping former rebels in their pursuit for a reformed life.
Speaking during the AFP-PNP press forum at The Royal Mandaya Hotel on Wednesday, January 24, Colonel Ernesto Torres, 1003rd Infantry Brigade (IB) commander, said Duterte already met the former NPA members whom some were part of the rebels' Underground Mass Organization (Ugmo).
"This coming 6 to 10 of February, 'yong mga nagbalik-loob last December will be brought to Manila to have a dinner with the President in three batches," he said.
It will be an all-expense-paid trip where they will be flown using the C130 of the Philippine Air Force.
"If you remember last December 21, the Eastern Mindanao Command presented 683 former rebels and the President relay to them the programs of the government regarding those who would like to go back to mainstream society," Torres said.
The program includes financial and livelihood assistance and housing opportunities under the Comprehensive Local Integration Program.
The surrenderers will also have an educational tour at the Intramuros, Malacañang, and other historic places to awaken their nationalism.
They will also be brought to the mushroom production of the Technical Education and Skills Development Authority to help them get ideas on how to improve their lives and be self-sustaining.
"The objective of that is to first encourage active participation of our former rebels in nation-building and peace-building," he said.
He added, "If they are brought to Manila, they will see how things are going on there. They will be briefed on the different programs of the government."
The formers rebels will also be meeting Armed Forces of the Philippines Chief-of-Staff General Rey Leonard Guerrero.
The President will also discuss with and update them on the progress of the program that is being offered to them.
"Ang epekto po nito, pinapaalam niya sa mga Lumad brothers natin, pinapadama niya sa kanila yong futility ng pagjo-join sa mga CPP-NPA and there is more hope and progress and prosperity if they would support the program of the government and not the program of the CPP-NPA (The President wants to show to our Lumad brothers the futility in joining the CPP-NPA)," he said.