‘Government not giving blanket amnesty to former rebels’  

Jose Rodel Clapano - The Philippine Star
�Government not giving blanket amnesty to former rebels�   
Individuals initially alleged to be surrenderees of the New People's Army at the Philippine National Police's Camp Bagong Diwa in Taguig in this photo uploaded on Facebook on Jan. 26, 2021.
The STAR / Michael Varcas

MANILA, Philippines — The Marcos administration is not giving blanket amnesty to former rebels, presidential peace adviser Carlito Galvez Jr. told a congressional hearing last Tuesday.

In an opening message for the hearing on the amnesty proclamation issued by President Marcos, Galvez said the former rebels who would avail themselves of the amnesty being offered by the administration would still have to face civil liabilities for the crimes they committed against civilians.

“We also wish to stress that these amnesty proclamations do not give blanket amnesty to these former rebels. By blanket amnesty, we mean that they will be granted amnesty regardless of the nature of their crimes, as earlier explained. This will not be the case, as the amnesty proclamations clearly define what specific crimes are covered,” Galvez explained.

He stressed that former rebels who are availing themselves of the amnesty being offered by the Marcos administration must also show remorse.

“It is also important for the former rebels themselves to show remorse and admit to the crimes that they have committed, and in doing so, show that they have completely turned away from a life of violence and armed struggle,” Galvez said.

“What amnesty does is that it extinguishes any and all criminal liability for the acts subject of the amnesty grant, as well as restores all civil and political rights suspended or lost by virtue of criminal conviction,” he added.

Granting amnesty does not remove the grantee’s civil liability for injuries or damages caused to private persons, according to the presidential peace adviser.

He said that this is what makes the job of the National Amnesty Commission (NAC) crucial in relation to the government’s peacebuilding efforts.

“The NAC shall ensure the expeditious but cautious processing of amnesty applications of these former rebels. This is a delicate balancing act, as the commission will have to ensure the state’s obligation under international law to protect and promote human rights on one hand and the government’s commitment to peace, reconciliation and unity on the other,” he added.

Galvez noted that concurrent Resolutions No. 19, 20 and 22, which concur with Presidential Proclamation Nos. 403, 404, 405 and 406 in providing amnesty to members of the revolution proletarian army-Alex Boncayao Brigade (RPMP/RPA/ABB), Communist Party of the Philippines-New People’s Army-National Democratic Front (CPP-NPA-NDF), Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) and Moro National Liberation Front (MNLF) are a testament of the House of Representatives’ full support for the administration’s peace, reconciliation and unity agenda.

“Our dear lawmakers, the granting of amnesty is an integral part of the comprehensive peace process. It is a path toward normalization that would allow these former rebels not only to fully reintegrate themselves into mainstream society as peaceful, productive and law-abiding citizens, but more importantly, enable them to rebuild their lives and ensure a better future for themselves and their families,” he said.

He added that the government’s amnesty program is among the confidence-building measures under the National Task Force to End Local Communist Armed Conflict (NTF-ELCAC) local peace engagement framework and normalization program under the Comprehensive Agreement on Bangsamoro.

“We want to demonstrate to these former rebels that they have made the right decision in laying down their arms and returning to the folds of the law. We want to show them that good things come to those who choose to walk the path of peace,” Galvez said.

“We would like to emphasize that those who are eligible to apply for amnesty under existing proclamations are individual members of the MNLF, MILF, RPMP/RPA/ABB and CPP-NPA-NDF who have committed crimes defined under the Revised.”– Michael Punongbayan, Janvic Mateo, Artemio Dumlao

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