PICC, PASAY CITY — The National Amnesty Commission (NAC) convened here on Tuesday to finalize the draft of the Implementing Rules and Regulations of the Amnesty Program for former rebels.

This is the second time that the NAC has met since its establishment on February 5, 2021 by virtue of Executive Order No. 125.

“We recognize that there is an urgency to finish all the documents, the needed legal documents especially the Implementing Rules and Regulations that should be finished,” said Office of the Presidential Adviser on Peace Reconciliation and Unity (OPAPRU) Executive Director, Atty. Wilben Mayor.

“There is just a limited time on the application that we want to prepare the proclamation to extend the application period of the Amnesty Program of the government, because [based on the] reality on ground, we have only two months to submit these documents,” added Mayor, who heads the secretariat of the Amnesty Board.

The NAC is primarily tasked to receive and process applications for amnesty that were filed through the Local Amnesty Board (LAB).

These applications for amnesty cover Proclamation Nos 1090, 1091, 1092 and 1093, series of 2021, which were issued by former President Rodrigo Duterte last year, and were concurred with by Congress and the Senate.

The said proclamations grant amnesty to 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 the Communist Terrorist Group, respectively, who committed crimes in furtherance of their political beliefs.

Only Proclamation No. 1093 was not concurred with by the Senate.

“We have actually just finished the whole structure as an organization. We are establishing [this structure] to launch our operation. This is just a part of the mechanism on promoting peace, this is the first step [in granting amnesty]. That is why this is very important,” said NAC Commissioner Atty. Nasser Marohomsalic.

“The primary occupation of every person is peace. The motherhood of all virtues is peace. Everything follows after peace,” Marohomsalic stressed.

For his part, NAC Commissioner Atty. Jamar Kulayan likened the granting of amnesty to a passage in the Quran which exhorts members of the Muslim faith to forgive as long as the wrongdoer seeks forgiveness.

“Whoever of you is wrong and finds in his heart the reason to forgive the wrongdoer, Allah will elevate his rank by one degree and forgive one of his sins. With that, the Commission and even the government, hopefully, we have in our hearts the reason to forgive or benevolence to forgive everything. Whatever the rebels may have committed against us, we have found in our hearts the reason to forgive,” Kulayan said.

“Their filing for amnesty and the fact that they are actively participating in the peace process is already an indication of their willingness to go back to the folds of the law and become productive members of our society,” he added.

Kulayan emphasized that the granting of amnesty will be crucial in the national government’s efforts to gain the trust and confidence of former rebels.

“This is very important because amnesty is [the] art of the building of trust and confidence with the other party. Moreover, the amnesty will make that agreement more  concrete, concretizing what has been agreed upon, it [amnesty] finally settles everything,” he added.

Meanwhile, Presidential Peace Adviser Secretary Carlito Galvez Jr., said the OPAPRU is working double time to hasten the crafting of documents such as the IRR of the amnesty proclamation which is expected to be signed by President Ferdinand R. Marcos Jr. before the Senate takes a holiday break.

“What we do right now is we are currently fast tracking these documents because we believe that amnesty will bring back political and civil liberty and rights to the former combatants. I myself can attest to that,” Galvez said.

“I was among those who were granted amnesty during former President Fidel Ramos’ administration. Had I not been given that pardon, I wouldn’t be where I am now — in a much better place, helping the nation in the peace process. That is the same thing we want to see in our brothers and sisters,” he added.

Once President Ferdinand Marcos Jr. signs the proclamation extending the previous amnesty proclamations, the OPAPRU expects to receive over 50,000 applications for amnesty coming from former MILF and MNLF combatants.

The NAC meeting was also attended by Defense Assistant Secretary Erik Lawrence Dy, Justice Assistant Secretary Majken Anika Gran-Ong, State Counsel Berlin Berba, and OPAPRU directors. ###