MANILA - President Rodrigo Duterte on Wednesday dined with another batch of former New People’s Army (NPA) rebels in Malacañang as the government pursued its campaign to urge communist fighters to lay down their arms.
The military’s Eastern Mindanao Command said a total of 241 former rebels from Compostela Valley and Davao del Norte were flown to Manila from Davao City to meet with Duterte at the presidential palace on Wednesday afternoon.
Of the 241 former rebels, 38 were women. They were among 683 presented to the President in Panacan, Davao City last December 21.
Prior to the dinner, the former rebels were given a tour around Manila’s Luneta Park and Intramuros with Armed Forces chief of staff General Rey Leonardo Guerrero.
Duterte earlier this month hosted 251 rebels who had returned to government fold, the first batch of former fighters he met since the collapse of peace talks between the state and the left.
During his dinner with the first batch of former rebels, Duterte promised support for education and jobs.
“Education. I’ll give you salary. Just wait a little and don’t start a fight. Just wait until I am able to give you jobs. Trains will be made in Davao so I’ll employ you there,” Duterte, speaking in Bisaya, said in a speech on Feb. 7.
The meeting between Duterte and the former communist rebels came as the once flourishing ties between the left and the administration suffered following the termination of peace negotiations in November.
Duterte had ordered the cancellation of government's talks with communist rebels, blasting the New People's Army (NPA) for its continued attacks on state troops despite the ongoing peace talks.
He then declared the Communist Party of the Philippines-NPA as a terror group.
The government has since pursued a campaign to end the protracted communist rebellion, including efforts to urge rebels to lay down their arms.