PASAY CITY– The Philippine Senate on Wednesday, February 21, expressed its full support to the amnesty proclamations issued by President Ferdinand R. Marcos Jr. for members of revolutionary groups who have committed crimes in pursuit of their political beliefs.

Sen. Jinggoy Ejercito Estrada, chairperson of Senate Committee on National Defense and Security, Peace, Unification and Reconciliation, sponsored the four measures granting amnesty to members of the various insurgent groups.

According to Estrada, the granting of amnesty offers former rebels an invaluable opportunity to transform their lives and gain access to the government’s socio-economic services.

“This is one positive move towards strengthening peace and unity in our beloved country. With the positive results these measures would bring, we can say that amnesty is the best policy,” the senator said during the plenary session.

Estrada noted that amnesty must be judiciously wielded as an instrument of healing, and at the same time, to express the sincerity and commitment of the national government towards the completion of the implementation of all signed peace agreements.

“The amnesty program is an integral component of the Philippine Government’s normalization program and comprehensive peace efforts. For its part, the defense establishment throws its full support to the congressional concurrence to these amnesty proclamations as these are testaments to the commitment of the current administration to sustaining the gains in our internal security and stability,” he said.

The Senate also expressed its appreciation to Presidential Peace Adviser Secretary Carlito G. Galvez, Jr., as well as other officials of the Office of the Presidential Adviser on Peace, Reconciliation and Unity (OPAPRU) and representatives of other concerned line agencies for staying all throughout the plenary session for the amnesty proclamations.

“We would like to put it into record how important these measures are that we are in consideration right now. We still have with us our friends from OPAPRU, DILG (Department of the Interior and Local Government) and DND (Department of Defense). We appreciate your presence here,” Sen. Joel Vilanueva said.

Meanwhile, Senate Deputy Minority Leader Sen. Risa Hontiveros volunteered to co-sponsor the measures granting amnesty to former rebels.

“As a long time peace advocate in the peace movement and as a previous member of the negotiating panel particularly with the CPP-NPA-NDF, ipagpapasalamat ko po sa good sponsor if maari nila akong ituring na co-sponsor sa lahat ng kanilang amnesty bills,” Hontiveros said.

On Nov. 22, 2023, President Ferdinand R. Marcos Jr. issued Proclamation Nos. 403, 404, 405, and 404 granting amnesty to members of the Rebolusyonaryong Partido ng Manggagawa ng Pilipinas/Revolutionary Proletarian Army/Alex Boncayao Brigade (RPMP-RPA-ABB), Communist Party of the Philippines – New People’s Army – National Democratic Front (CPP-NPA-NDF), Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF), and Moro National Liberation Front (MNLF), respectively.

After the issuance of the said proclamations, the House of Representatives, on Dec. 15 last year, approved four House Concurrent Resolutions (HCR) that granted amnesty to members of these revolutionary groups.

As contained under Section 19, Article VII of the 1987 Constitution, the President shall have the power to grant amnesty with the concurrence of a majority of all members of Congress.

The granting of amnesty is also among the main confidence-building measures under the National Task Force to End Local Communist Armed Conflict’s (NTF-ELCAC) local peace engagement framework, Normalization Program under the Comprehensive Agreement on the Bangsamoro (CAB), Transformation Program for MNLF members, as well as the clarificatory implementing document signed between the national government and the RPMP-RPA-ABB or KAPATIRAN.

While the Senate has yet to concur on the resolutions, Galvez thanked the Senate for fully supporting the amnesty proclamations for former rebels, as he expressed confidence these will be passed.

“With the Senate’s overwhelming support, I am confident that we are moving closer to our collective goal, and that is, the official roll out of the government’s amnesty program, and the granting of amnesty to former rebels,” he said.

“Amnesty is an integral part of the comprehensive peace process that would allow these former rebels not only to fully reintegrate themselves into mainstream society as peaceful, productive and law-abiding citizens, but more importantly, enable them to rebuild their lives and ensure a better future for themselves and their families. As an act of forgiveness and mercy, indeed amnesty is the best policy,” Galvez added. ###