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Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte’s creation of a National Amnesty Commission is expected to help usher in peace in Mindanao and areas experiencing armed communist conflict by encouraging rebels to lay down their arms, said Presidential Peace Adviser Carlito Galvez Jr.
Duterte, through an executive order not yet released publicly, has created a 7-member amnesty commission in charge of processing amnesty applications in relation to amnesty proclamations.
The government offers amnesty to rebels who wish to give up their arms for civilian life. The granting of amnesty, for instance, is part of the Philippine government’s agreement with the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF), who were formerly rebels seeking an autonomous region.
The MILF now lead the interim government of the new Bangsamoro Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao but must still decommission a big chunk of its armed combatants, as part of the peace deal.
“The granting of amnesty sends a clear and strong message that the government undertands the root causes of the decades-long armed conflict in Mindanao, and is giving these former combatants the chance for a fresh start,” said Galvez in a statement on Wednesday, February 10.
“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,” he added.
Galvez Jr, who joined a failed coup against then President Corazon Aquino in 1989, underwent a similar process under the Ramos administration. (READ: Little-known fact: AFP chief Galvez got amnesty for 1989 failed coup)
Who gets amnesty?
The amnesty applications of the following groups are covered by the new commission, said Galvez:
- Moro Islamic Liberation Front
- Moro National Liberation Front
- Communist Party of the Philippines-New People’s Army-National Democratic Front
- Cordillera Bodong Administration-Cordillera People’s Liberation Army
- Rebolusyonaryong Partidong Manggagawa ng Pilipinas/Revolutionary Proletarian Army/Alex Boncayao Brigade-Tabara Paduano Group or KAPATIRAN
Amnesty proclamations that require the concurrence of lawmakers have already been sent to Congress, Presidential Spokesman Harry Roque said on Monday.
Members of the amnesty commission
The commission will be composed of a chairperson, two regular members, and 4 ex-officio members.
The following Cabinet members are the ex-officio members:
- Defense Secretary
- Justice Secretary
- Interior Secretary
- Presidential Peace Adviser
Past presidents have taken the same route to entice members of rebels groups to give up their armed struggle. (READ: Aquino, 5 other presidents delegated amnesty review to committees) – Rappler.com