PASIG CITY (8 FEBRUARY 2021)-— Presidential Peace Adviser Carlito G. Galvez, Jr. welcomed the creation of a national body that will oversee the processing and granting of amnesty to former rebels and advance the attainment of just and lasting peace in the country.

This was in response to an Executive Order signed by President Rodrigo Roa Duterte creating the National Amnesty Commission that aims to encourage more members of rebel groups to give up armed struggle and return to the folds of the law.

“The creation of the National Amnesty Commission is proof of the Duterte administration’s sincerity and determination to achieve sustainable peace in the country,”  Galvez said on Monday.

“The granting of amnesty sends a clear and strong message that the government understands the root causes of the decades-long armed conflict in Mindanao, and is giving these former combatants the chance for a fresh start,” he added.

The seven-member commission will consist of a chairperson, two regular members, and four ex-officio members.

The Secretaries of National Defense, Justice, and the Interior and Local Government, as well as the Presidential Peace Adviser shall serve as ex-officio members of the body.

In a press briefing on Monday, Presidential Spokesperson Harry Roque explained the mandate of the commission.

“Ang primary task po ng National Amnesty Commission ay tumanggap at magproseso ng mga aplikasyon ng amnestiya at tukuyin ang mga aplikanteng puwedeng mabigyan nito in connection with the recent amnesty proclamations, pending concurrence of Congress. Naipadala na po sa Kongreso ang mga amnesty proclamations para sa kanilang concurrence or pagsang-ayon,” Roque said.

Galvez emphasized that the establishment of the commission is dovetailed to the government’s Whole-of-Nation, Whole-of-Society Approach that seeks to finally put an end to the armed rebellion throughout the country.

“Hindi po tayo titigil sa pagsasagawa ng mga hakbang upang mabigyan ng mas magandang buhay ang mga dating rebelde at ang kanilang mga pamilya, at mapaunlad ang kanilang komunidad,” he said.

“At sa pagbibigay po ng amnestiya sa mga dating rebeldeng ito, inaasahan po natin na gagamitin nila ang pagkakataong ito upang maging ehemplo sa kanilang mga dating kasamahan na walang buting maidudulot ang armadong karahasan,” Galvez said.

According to the peace adviser, the National Amnesty Commission will cover the applications for amnesty of members of all rebels groups including the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF), Moro National Liberation Front (MNLF), Communist Party of the Philippines – New People’s Army – National Democratic Front (CPP-NPA-NDF), Cordillera Bodong Administration – Cordillera People’s Liberation Army (CBA-CPLA), and Rebolusyonaryong Partidong Manggagawa ng Pilipinas/Revolutionary Proletarian Army/Alex Boncayao Brigade- Tabara Paduano Group (RPM-P/RPA/ABB-TPG) or KAPATIRAN.

“With this delivery of important commitment from the government, I am requesting the various peace tables to already prepare the parameters and come up with recommendations on the implementation of the amnesty proclamation,” he said.

The amnesty is also part of the Normalization Track of the Comprehensive Agreement on the Bangsamoro with the MILF. The amnesty is part of the confidence-building measure of the Normalization Track of the peace agreement that aims to achieve meaningful transformation of combatants to peaceful and productive citizens of the society.

“With the establishment of the National Amnesty Commission, these former rebels will be able to make the complete transition to peaceful, law-abiding and productive citizens,” Galvez said.

The government’s top peace negotiator also urged members of the CPP-NPA to take advantage of the amnesty program, as this will enable them to turn a new leaf and build a brighter future for themselves and their families. “The amnesty proclamation will benefit the rebel returnees. I call on members of the communist group who are still hiding in the mountains to use the amnesty program as an opportunity to turn away from armed violence and become instruments of peace and development in their communities'” Galvez said. END