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Monday, March 4, 2024

President grants amnesty to NPA, MILF, MNLF, Boncayao rebels

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President Ferdinand Marcos Jr. granted amnesty to various rebel and insurgent groups as the administration continued its efforts to push for peace and unity.

The Presidential Communications Office (PCO) said Friday the militant groups were granted amnesty under Proclamation Nos. 403, 404, 405, and 406.

Included in the amnesty are former members Communist Party of the Philippines-New People’s Army-National Democratic Front (CPP-NPA-NDF) and the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) and Moro National Liberation Front (MNLF) who have committed crimes punishable under the Revised Penal Code and Special Penal laws in furtherance of their political beliefs.

Additionally, members of the Rebolusyonaryong Partido ng Manggagawa ng Pilipinas-Revolutionary Proletarian Army-Alex Boncayao Brigade (RPMP-RPA-ABB) were also granted amnesty.

The PCO said the amnesty was granted to allow former rebels to return to the fold of law and reintegrate themselves back into society.

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However, the proclamation stated that it would not cover grave offenses such as kidnap for ransom, massacre, rape, terrorism, crimes committed against chastity as defined in the Revised Penal Code, and other crimes committed for personal ends.

Moreover, crimes in line with the violation of Republic Act (RA) No. 9165, or the Comprehensive Dangerous Drugs Act of 2002, grave violations of the Geneva Convention of 1949, and genocide, crimes against humanity, war crimes, torture, enforced disappearances, and other gross violations of human rights were also excluded from the proclamation.

Earlier this week, the President issued EO No. 47 amending EO No. 125 series of 2021, which created the National Amnesty Commission (NAC).

The President said there was a need to revise the functions of the NAC to process applications for amnesty under the new proclamations.

Defense Secretary Gilberto Teodoro Jr. said that the government remained alert against terrorism and extremism, following the amnesty granted by President Marcos Jr. to four rebel groups.

At the same time, Teodoro said the amnesty complemented government efforts to end the insurgency as some rebels refused to surrender because they had existing warrants of arrest.

Teodoro said the amnesty would need the concurrence of Congress.

The National Amnesty Commission would vet the qualified recipients of amnesty. At the same time, the Office of the Presidential Adviser on Peace, Reconciliation, and Unity will provide livelihood and other forms of assistance to the former rebels.

National Security Adviser Secretary Eduardo Año expressed optimism about the amnesty.

“The National Security Council expresses its full support and gladly welcomes the amnesty proclamations issued by President Ferdinand R. Marcos Jr., aimed at fostering lasting peace in our country through comprehensive peace initiatives,” he said in a statement.

“We recognize these proclamations as significant steps towards national healing and peacebuilding. By providing a path for former rebels to return to the fold of the law, the national amnesty program contributes to the overall stability and unity of our nation.

“These amnesty proclamations will undoubtedly create a climate conducive to peace and reconciliation, pave the way for the former rebel’s reintegration into society, and provide them access to socio-economic services of the government. It is a clear and unmistakable instrument of peace and reconciliation.”

Año also urged the rebels to take the chance to rejoin mainstream society and be part of the nation-building for the betterment and prosperity of the country.

“We urge all former rebels to take this once-in-lifetime opportunity to return to mainstream society and become productive citizens of the country once again. Help us build a better and more prosperous country,” Año said.

Meanwhile, the National Task Force to End Local Communist Armed Conflict (NTF-ELCAC) said they were committed to accelerating the implementation of the amnesty.

“The Task Force is committed to work and expedite the full implementation of the proclamations that grant amnesty for former members of various rebel groups,” the NTF-ELCAC said in a statement.

The task force called on the remaining members of the concerned rebel groups to surrender to authorities.

“Let us move forward together, transcending past conflicts and differences, towards a future where peace reigns supreme,” it said.

“Our collective efforts today lay the groundwork for a more cohesive and prosperous Philippines tomorrow.”

Senator Grace Poe said the amnesty strikes a powerful chord with Filipinos who shun violence and conflict.

She noted that groups waging armed struggle out of their political conviction will no longer feel the sword hanging over their heads.

“We hope the amnesty program will provide a comprehensive package for the rebels, including training, livelihood, and employment opportunities,” Poe said.

She said this would fully reintegrate the rebels into mainstream society as peaceful, productive, and law-abiding citizens.

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