Cebu News

Centcom welcomes law granting amnesty to rebels


The Central Command of the Armed Forces of the Philippines has welcomed Proclamation No. 1377 which aims to grant amnesty to rebels to hasten the military’s efforts in virtually eradicating domestic armed conflict and fast track economic progress.

Centcom spokesperson Jefferson Omandam said the proclamation recently signed by President Arroyo is a welcome move to encourage rebels to go back into the folds of the law without any retribution for criminal wrongdoings that were done in pursuit of their political beliefs.

The proclamation that seeks to end hostilities and offer genuine reconciliation to achieve lasting peace for the nation’s ultimate development is also seen as a move that lessens the threats on acts of terrorism.

Omandam said “back channeling (amnesty) is necessary and effective if we are to realize the end to insurgency within three years,” which he described as an ambitious objective, but doable based on the steadying decline on the number of rebels.

The President has issued a timetable to the AFP to crush out the insurgency problem by the time her term ends in 2010.

In Cebu, Omandam bared the Centcom has successfully disabled the rebels as only two guerilla fronts, out of seven, are operating but that their operations are “struggling and barely functioning.”

The military official has recognized the active participation of the local government units that have largely contributed to the downward trend of the strength of insurgents in Central Visayas.

Centcom is currently strengthening its information campaign in far-flung areas to educate folks about the negative effects of communism to counter any recruitment efforts on the part of the leftist wing.

“Such information campaign has been very effective in opening the eyes of the ordinary and simple rural folks as most that joined the armed groups are ignorant of what they are getting into,” Omandam said.

Government is optimistic that the amnesty program is a step towards genuine reconciliation and that those who avail of the amnesty can go back into living a normal life and support the government in its efforts to revive the country’s economy and end poverty.

Omandam added that P100,000 will be given to each rebel returnee as an incentive for them to surrender their arms and cooperate with the government although the implementing guidelines are still being finalized regarding such benefit. 

The amnesty decree is part of the social integration program for former rebels as provided under Administrative Order No. 172 which the President issued on March 23 of this year.

Those who would want to avail of the amnesty program must file their application under oath with the National Committee on Social Integration and the Provincial or City Peace and Order Council Amnesty Centers within six months from the effectivity of the proclamation. — Gregg M. Rubio/MEEV 

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