PASIG CITY — Presidential Peace Adviser Carlito G. Galvez Jr. welcomed the House of Representatives’ concurrence to President Rodrigo Roa Duterte’s proclamations which grant amnesty to members of four local revolutionary groups.

According to Galvez, this development “marks another major milestone in the comprehensive Philippine peace process.”

With the adoption of concurrent Resolutions 12, 13, 14, and 15 on May 19, the Lower House concurred with Presidential Proclamations 1090, 1091, 1092 and 1093 issued in February 2021.

The resolutions provide amnesty to qualified members of the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF), Moro National Liberation Front (MNLF), Rebolusyunaryong Partido ng Manggagawa ng Pilipinas/Revolutionary Proletarian Army/Alex Boncayao Brigade (RPMP-RPA-ABB), and Communist Terrorist Group (CTG).

“We thank and commend the Lower House through the leadership of Speaker Lord Allan Velasco for the adoption of these resolutions. This move supports President Duterte’s desire to give these former rebels the chance to rebuild their lives as productive and peaceful members of the society,” Galvez said.

“The Duterte Administration is committed to realizing its vision of finally putting an end to the armed conflict in the country by fulfilling the commitments it has made under all peace agreements, and achieving a just and lasting peace for all Filipinos,” he added.

In the Presidential Proclamation 1093, President Duterte emphasized the “need for the government to act on rebel and insurgent returnees’ request for the grant of amnesty so that they may live in peace in the pursuit of productive endeavors without prejudice to any legal arrangement that may result from a negotiated settlement which the government is pursuing with the various rebel and insurgent groups.”

The President further said that : “an amnesty program is an integral component of the government’s peace efforts.”

“To enhance and hasten the peace process, there is a need to reintegrate, as soon as possible, all rebels and insurgents into the mainstream society under the rule of law, including those who may have committed unlawful acts in furtherance of their respective political beliefs,” the President said.

Speaker Velasco, Majority Leader Ferdinand Martin Romualdez, and Minority Leader Joseph Stephen Paduano spearheaded the concurrent resolutions.

These resolutions were earlier initiated, pushed and approved in the House Committees on Justice and on National Defense and Security, chaired by Leyte Rep. Vicente Veloso III and Iloilo Rep. Raul Tupas, last April.

In a press release issued by the HOR, Velasco said they “are one with President Duterte in his noble desire to give Muslim and communist insurgents a second chance at life.”

“Accepting these rebels back into the folds of the law through amnesty and eventually providing them access to the government’s existing socioeconomic services are essential to attaining peace and reconciliation in the country,” he added.

Office of the Presidential Adviser on the Peace Process (OPAPP) Assistant Secretary for Legal Affairs Agripino G. Javier likewise expressed his gratitude to the HOR for supporting the President’s peace and development agenda.

“We are grateful to our lawmakers for adopting this very important measure that will sustain the gains of the peace process and at the same time, encourage more rebels to return to the folds of the law and begin a new life,” Javier said.

“On our part [at] OPAPP, we shall continue to actively engage our peace partners throughout the country so that they will better understand and appreciate the various peacebuilding and confidence-building measures being carried out by the government,” he said.

Meanwhile, Galvez hopes for members of the Senate to support the Lower House’s initiative by coming up with their respective legislative measure supporting the granting of amnesty to the former rebels.

“We encourage our good Senators to support the President’s call to help create the conditions wherein our fellow Filipinos will not hesitate to lay down their arms for the sake of peace and return to mainstream society,” the peace adviser said.

“The granting of amnesty to these former rebels is our way of building their trust and confidence in our country’s democratic processes, and encourage others to follow their example,” he added.

Amnesty component across Philippine’s peace tables

Presidential Proclamations 1090, 1091, 1092, and 1093 aim to restore the civil and political rights of the groups’ members that were suspended or lost due to criminal conviction.

The granting of amnesty is part of the Normalization Track of the Comprehensive Agreement on the Bangsamoro (CAB), the landmark peace deal signed between the national government and the MILF.

Specifically, amnesty is among the confidence-building measures under the Normalization Track that aim to help transform former MILF combatants into peaceful and productive members of society.

Amnesty is also a component stipulated under the Final Peace Agreement (FPA) between the government and the MNLF.

The granting of amnesty is also expected to provide a boost to local peace engagements (LPE) being carried out by the government with members of the Communist Party of the Philippines-New People’s Army-National Democratic Front (CPP-NPA-NDF).

Through LPEs, hundreds of rebels have turned away from armed struggle and now walk the path of peace.

Under the 2000 Peace Agreement forged between the government and RPM-P/RPA/ABB, particularly with  the Tabara-Paduano Group (TPG), a closure agreement has already been drafted.

The agreement has five components which include the “Provision on the Restoration of Civil and Political Rights” for the former rebels. ###