Commentary: Amnesty to rebel groups, milestone in peace and reconciliation process
Tacloban City (September 8) -- President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo's giving of amnesty to communist rebel groups, is a milestone in the peace and reconciliation process in the country.
It is a manifestation of the government's sincerity in the attainment of peace and reconciliation in the country.
Proclamation No. 1377 which was recently signed by the President, grants amnesty to members of communist rebel groups in the country like the Communist Party of the Philippines-New People's Army-National Democratic Front.
The proclamation accepts rebels back into the fold of the law through amnesty and eventually providing them access to the government's existing socio-economic services.
These are essential to attaining peace and reconciliation in the country and as a path for their return to a peaceful, democratic, and pluralistic society.
The proclamation provides that the amnesty "shall cover the crime of rebellion and all other crimes included therein, or incident thereto in pursuit of political belief as defined by jurisprudence, whether punishable under the Revised Penal Code or special laws.
Amnesty shall be granted to members of the CPP-NPA-NDF and other communist rebel groups who shall file application under oath with the National Committee on Social Integration (NCSI) and the Provincial or City Peace and Order Council Amnesty Centers (P/CPOC-ACs) within six (6) months from the effectivity of the proclamation.
Not covered by the proposed amnesty are crimes against chastity, rape, torture, kidnapping for ransom, use and trafficking of illegal drugs and other crimes for personal ends and violations of international law or convention and protocols, even if alleged to have been committed in pursuit of political beliefs.
The Proclamation provides that any member of the CPP-NPA-NDF and other communist rebel groups who has committed any act or omission in pursuit of political belief referred to in Section 2, including those detained, charged or convicted for such acts or omission, may file an application for amnesty.
Those who have already been granted amnesty under previous amnesty proclamations shall no longer qualify under Proclamation 1377. Those who have been convicted by a court of competent jurisdiction may benefit from a grant of amnesty by the restoration of applicants' civil or political rights only.
Persons who applied for amnesty under previous proclamations but whose applications were not considered for having been made outside the required period for filing may apply under this Proclamation.
Applicants with firearms are required to turn over their firearms within 30 days from their filing of application for amnesty without incurring liability for illegal possession.
Amnesty under Proclamation 1377 shall extinguish any criminal liability for acts committed in pursuit of political beliefs, without prejudice to the grantee's civil liability for injuries or damages caused to private persons.
Unless detained pursuant to law, a person who applies for amnesty shall be issued a Safe Conduct Pass by the Provincial or City Peace and Order Council Amnesty Center (P/CPOC-AC). The Safe Conduct Pass shall provide immunity from warrantless arrests for offenses covered under this Proclamation.
The National Committee on Social Integration (NSCI) upon due deliberation, shall issue the corresponding Certificate of Amnesty to qualified applicants. The filing of an application herein shall not ipso facto result in a grant of amnesty.
The grant of amnesty shall restore the grantee's civil and political rights lost or suspended by virtue of conviction for crime/s covered thereby.
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, 2007.
Certified copies of the proclamation have been transmitted to the Senate and the House of Representatives for concurrence in accordance with the Constitution.
It is hoped that the Senate and the House of Representatives will give their concurrence as soon as possible.
It is prayed that brother Filipinos who are with the communist groups now will take advantage of this opportunity to come back into the folds of the law. (PIA 8) [top]