House Speaker Lord Allan Velasco has thrown his support behind the Duterte administration’s amnesty program for Muslim and communist rebels who may have opted to lay down their arms and return to the fold of the law.
Velasco said the House Committees on Justice and on National Defense and Security have already adopted four resolutions concurring with the proclamations signed by President Duterte granting amnesty to members of four major rebel groups.
“The amnesty program is a huge step toward achieving just and lasting peace in the country and giving former rebels a path back into civilian life,” the House leader said.
“The amnesty will also provide a meaningful and complete transformation and assimilation of the MILF [Moro Islamic Liberation Front] decommissioned combatants into peaceful and progressive lives towards national reconciliation and healing in the Bangsamoro,” he added.
Last month, President Duterte issued Proclamation 1090 to 1093 granting amnesty to members of the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF), MNLF, Rebolusyunaryong Partido ng Manggagawa ng Pilipinas/Revolutionary Proletarian Army/Alex Boncayao Brigade (RPMP-RPA-ABB), and Communist Terrorist Group (CTG) who may have committed crimes in “furtherance of their political beliefs.”
Velasco said the grant of amnesty is proof of the government’s sincerity and determination to attain sustainable peace in the country.
According to the House leader, amnesty is “necessary for the general interest of the Philippines and the Filipino people for a just and lasting peace.”
Velasco said the creation of the National Amnesty Commission and the grant of amnesty in favor of MILF would “enable the delivery of an important commitment of the government under the Comprehensive Agreement on the Bangsamoro, particularly the gradual normalization of the previously conflict-affected areas.”
“Both Houses of Congress recognize that transforming MNLF [Moro National Liberation Front] members from armed combatants to productive citizens and peace partners is necessary to achieve the paramount ends of the peace process—national unity, solidarity and progress for all Filipinos,” he said.
In his proclamation, President Duterte said there is a need to reintegrate as soon as possible all rebels and insurgents into the mainstream society under the rule of law, including those who may have committed unlawful acts.
The amnesty “shall extinguish any criminal liability for acts committed in pursuit of political beliefs” and restore political and civil rights, which were lost due to criminal conviction, the proclamation stated.
However, the amnesty would not cover kidnappings for ransom, massacres, rape, terrorism, drug trafficking and certain crimes the United Nations says should never be covered by amnesties, such as genocide, crimes against humanity and torture.
Image credits: AP