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SOURCE: Press and Public Affairs Bureau

28 March 2021 10:51:13 AM

Speaker Lord Allan Velasco has reaffirmed the unwavering support of the House of Representatives for the Duterte administration’s amnesty program for Muslim and communist rebels who agreed to lay down their arms and return to the fold of the law.

“The amnesty program is a huge step toward achieving just and lasting peace in the country and giving former rebels a path back into civilian life,” Velasco said.

The House chief issued the statement after the Committees on Justice and on National Defense and Security approved last Wednesday four resolutions concurring with the proclamations signed by President Rodrigo Roa Duterte granting amnesty to members of four major rebel groups.

Speaker Velasco led the filing of House Concurrent Resolution (HCR) Numbers 12 to 15.

Last month, President Duterte issued Proclamation Nos. 1090 to 1093 granting 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 Communist Terrorist Group (CTG) who have committed crimes in “furtherance of their political beliefs.”

Velasco said the granting of amnesty is proof of the Duterte administration’s sincerity and determination to attain sustainable peace in the country.

According to the House leader, amnesty is “necessary for the general interest of the Philippines and the Filipino people for a just and lasting peace.”

Velasco said the creation of the National Amnesty Commission and the grant of amnesty in favor of MILF would “enable the delivery of an important commitment of the government under the Comprehensive Agreement on the Bangsamoro, particularly the gradual normalization of the previously conflict-affected areas.”

“The amnesty will also provide a meaningful and complete transformation and assimilation of the MILF decommissioned combatants into peaceful and progressive lives towards national reconciliation and healing in the Bangsamoro,” he pointed out.

Velasco said Congress shares the President’s view on the need to declare amnesty to MNLF members “to promote an atmosphere conducive to the attainment of a just, comprehensive and enduring equanimity.”

“Both Houses of Congress recognize that transforming MNLF members from armed combatants to productive citizens and peace partners is necessary to achieve the paramount ends of the peace process—national unity, solidarity and progress for all Filipinos,” he said.

In supporting the grant of amnesty to RPMP-RPA-ABB and CTG, Velasco said the legislature is one with the Duterte government in “nurturing a climate conducive for peace” and “addressing the root causes of armed conflict by harmonizing the delivery of basic services and social development packages in conflict-affected areas and vulnerable communities.”

In his proclamation, President Duterte said 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.

The amnesty “shall extinguish any criminal liability for acts committed in pursuit of political beliefs” and restore political and civil rights, which were lost due to criminal conviction, the proclamation stated.

However, the amnesty would not cover kidnappings for ransom, massacres, rape, terrorism, drug trafficking and certain crimes the United Nations says should never be covered by amnesties, such as genocide, crimes against humanity and torture. #