Duterte welcomes over 200 NPA surrenderees back into gov't fold

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(File photo)

Metro Manila (CNN Philippines, February 7) — President Rodrigo Duterte hosted more than 200 former rebels in Malacañang Wednesday, the first of three batches to lay down arms and return to normal lives.

These are former members of the New People's Army (NPA), a group declared by the President as terrorists in December last year.

The President met with the former rebels following his decision to scrap peace talks with the Communist Party of the Philippines (CPP), the political arm of the NPA, and amid threats from its leadership of more attacks against soldiers.

Wednesday's meeting was meant as a message to NPA rebels, letting them know that by laying down their arms, they can start anew with the help of government.

The Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) said 40 of the former rebels have met the basic entry requirements for enlistment as members of the Citizen Armed Force Geographical Unit, or CAFGUs, the AFP's civilian auxiliary force.

Some of the former NPA members will be offered training for livelihood programs as a way for them to earn a living.

Duterte previously said that he would give full protection for rebels who surrender, saying it was his obligation to do so.

RELATED: Duterte: It's my obligation to protect rebels who surrender

But the President has been consistent in his stance to get rid of the NPA, once saying they should be treated with as much force as the fight against illegal drugs.

RELATED: Duterte: Destroy the NPA

He has also not minced words when talking about the group's founder, Joma Sison, saying he would slap him if they were to meet.

The government in November ended the peace talks with the CPP-NPA-NDFP, following the escalation of attacks and violence.

READ: Duterte formally ends talks with Reds

CNN Philippines Senior Correspondent Ina Andolong, and Digital Producer Pia Garcia contributed to this report.