House of Representatives

House party leaders pledge ‘unwavering support’ for Marcos’ peace initiative

Kaycee Valmonte

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House party leaders pledge ‘unwavering support’ for Marcos’ peace initiative

LOWER HOUSE. The House of Representatives opens its second regular session on Monday morning, July 24, 2023.

Dwight de Leon/Rappler

Under the Philippine constitution, the chief executive can grant amnesty 'with the concurrence of a majority of all the Members of the Congress'

MANILA, Philippines – A day after Vice President Sara Duterte called on President Ferdinand Marcos Jr. to reconsider the resumption of peace talks, political party leaders at the House of Representatives expressed support for the “historic move.”

House party leaders pledge ‘unwavering support’ for Marcos’ peace initiative

The statement comes a week after Marcos issued a string of proclamations granting amnesty to rebels, which lawmakers noted is an important moment for a country that is aiming to secure peace and sustainable development.

Under the Philippine constitution, the chief executive can grant amnesty “with the concurrence of a majority of all the Members of the Congress.”

“President Marcos’s call for peace transcends political boundaries and speaks to the core of our shared values as Filipinos. It is a call for understanding, cooperation, and collective action towards a future where every citizen can live in harmony and prosperity,” the statement issued on Tuesday, December 5, read.

The signatories to the statement include:

  • Senior Deputy Speaker and Pampanga Representative Aurelio Gonzales Jr., Majority Leader and Zamboanga City Representative Manuel Jose Dalipe, and Agusan del Norte Representative Jose Aquino II of the Lakas-Christian Muslim Democrats (Lakas-CMD);
  • Rizal Representative Michael John Duavit, Deputy Speaker and Ilocos Sur Representative Kristine Singson-Meehan, and Quezon Representative Mark Enverga of the Nationalist People’s Coalition (NPC);
  • Deputy Speaker and Las Piñas City Representative Camille Villar, Surigao del Norte Representative Robert Ace Barbers, and Romblon Representative Eleandro Jesus Madrona of the Nacionalista Party (NP);
  • Camarines Sur Representative LRay Villafuerte, Antipolo City Representative Robbie Puno, and Bataan Representative Albert Garcia of the National Unity Party (NUP);
  • Ako Bicol Partylist Representative Zaldy Co, Bicol Saro Partylist Representative Brian Raymund Yamsuan, and Barangay Health & Wellness (BHW) Partylist Representative Angelica Natasha Co of the Partylist Coalition Foundation Inc. (PCFI);
  • Navotas Representative Toby Tiangco of the Partido Navoteño and representatives of other political parties in the House of Representatives.

House Speaker Martin Romualdez earlier said he supports the move to reopen peace negotiations, noting that it will help with the country’s healing and unity.

“This negotiation is more than just a political maneuver; it is a moral imperative, a chance to mend the fissures that have long divided our nation,” Romualdez said on Monday, December 4.

“We are not just negotiating terms,” he added. “We are weaving the fabric of a peaceful future for every Filipino.”

Those included in the presidential proclamations for amnesty are members of the Rebolusyonaryong Partido 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).

Marcos’ grant of amnesty to former rebels fulfills a promise he made during his second State of the Nation Address in July.

Proclamation No. 403 grants amnesty to RMP-RPA-ABB members whose crimes, specifically those committed with respect to their political beliefs, are punishable under the Revised Penal Code (RPC) and special penal laws.

On the other hand, Proclamation No. 404 grants amnesty to CPP-NPA-NDF members – or those with their front organizations – who committed crimes because of their beliefs, which would be punishable under the RPC and special penal laws.

Vice President Duterte, echoing the stance of her father and former president Rodrigo Duterte, said resuming peace talks also means making an “agreement with the devil.” House Minority Leader and ACT Teachers Party Representative France Castro said this belief reflects a “lack of understanding of the complexities of the peace process.”

“We acknowledge the diverse perspectives and ideologies within our ranks, yet we stand together in our commitment to the greater good of the Philippines,” the political party leaders said on Tuesday.

“This unity in purpose reflects the strength of our democracy and the resilience of our nation.” – Rappler.com

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