Amnesty proclamation a step towards peace and reconciliation - PGMA
Manila (11 September) -- Presidential Proclamation No. 1377 is the Arroyo administration's latest step towards attaining peace and reconciliation in the country.
Signed by President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo on Thursday, September 6 before leaving last Thursday for the 15th Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) Leaders' Meeting in Sydney Australia, Proclamation No. 1377 grants amnesty to members of the Communist Party of the Philippines-New Peoples Army-National Democratic Front (CPP-NPA-NDF), and other communist rebel groups.
The amnesty program is itself "an integral component" of the Arroyo administration's comprehensive peace efforts as mandated in Executive Order No. 3 dated February 28, 2001 -- one of President Arroyo's earliest peace overtures which defined "government policy and (the) administrative structure for the government's comprehensive peace efforts."
Proclamation No. 1377 -- which shall take effect upon concurrence by a majority of the members of Congress -- is also part of the Social Integration Program for former rebels as provided under Administrative Order No. 172 which President Arroyo issued last March 23.
Under AO 172, the principal body at the national level that would coordinate and monitor the implementation of Proclamation 1377 is the National Council for Social Integration (NCSI).
In issuing Proclamation 1377, President Arroyo stressed that "accepting rebels back into the folds of the law through amnesty, and eventually providing them access to the government's existing socio-economic services, are essential to attaining peace and reconciliation in the country."
Saying that "there is an urgent need and expressed desire to extend amnesty to members of the CPP-NPA-NDF and other communist rebel groups," President Arroyo directed the local offices of the Department of Interior and Local Governments (DILG) to accept the rebels' applications for amnesty; and then submit these to the Office of the Presidential Adviser on the Peace Process (OPAPP).
The proclamation provides that at the local level, "Amnesty Centers shall be established under the Peace and Order Councils (POCs) of provinces and cities." Such POCs shall be composed of the provincial/city Prosecutor's Office as chair; and representatives from the following as members: Integrated Bar of the Philippines, DILG, Philippine National Police (PNP), brigade/battalion level of the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) in the area, and the OPAPP.
The initial funds needed to carry out the communist rebels' voluntary return to the folds of the law shall be sourced from the Office of the President which shall release it to the OPAPP. Henceforth, the regular funds shall be included in the General Appropriations Act (GAA).
Under the proclamation, amnesty shall be granted to members of the CPP-NPA-NDF and other communist rebel groups who shall file their application under oath with the NCSI and the provincial or city POC Amnesty Centers within six months from the proclamation's effectivity.
The Certificate of Amnesty shall be issued to qualified applicants by the NSCI upon due deliberation.
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," according to Section 2 of the proclamation.
Not covered 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."
A Safe Conduct Pass shall be issued to a person who applies for amnesty, unless he is detained pursuant to law. The said Safe Conduct Pass issued by the provincial or city POC Amnesty Centers shall provide immunity from warrantless arrests for offenses covered under the proclamation. (PIA 5) [top]