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Tuesday, February 27, 2024

Amnesty for rebels

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What the amnesty offer clearly signifies is that peace and order should be restored soon if we want political stability, economic growth and social concord to prevail in the years ahead

You would think that with the Marcos Sr. administration’s scorched-earth policy toward both the communist and Muslim separatist rebellions, the second Marcos administration would be just as hardline and unyielding in its stand against any attempt to seize political power through the barrel of the gun.

But we know that change is the only constant, and the current administration has apparently chosen to take another path in putting an end to rebellion in the country by declaring amnesty for those who have chosen to take up arms in pursuit of political goals.

The amnesty offer, issued last month via Executive Order 47, covers both former and active members of the New People’s Army, Rebolusyonaryong Partido ng Manggagawa ng Pilipinas/ Revolutionary Proletarian Army/Alex Boncayao Brigade (RPMP-RPA-ABB), Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) and the Moro National Liberation Front (MNLF).

As expected, the amnesty offer has been hailed by the defense and security sectors of the national government as well as by two of the Muslim separatist groups.

For the National Security Council, the amnesty offer “will create a climate conducive to peace and reconciliation, provide a pathway for former rebels to reintegrate into the society, and give them access to socio-economic services of the government [and] contribute to the overall stability and unity of our nation.”

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It urged former rebels to seize the opportunity and avail themselves of the government’s once-in-a-lifetime offer.

The Department of National Defense, through Secretary Gilbert Teodoro, said the DND is fully behind the government’s concerted efforts to advance reconciliation and healing from the armed conflict that divided the nation for decades: “The grant of amnesty offers an invaluable opportunity for our brothers and sisters to transform their lives, avail (themselves) of government services, and rejoin their families and communities.”

Presidential Peace Adviser Carlito Galvez also backed the President’s amnesty proclamation, as it would allow the rebels “to transition into peaceful and productive civilian life through the restoration of their social and political rights, which will provide them greater participation and engagement with the broader community.

AFP Chief of Staff Gen. Romeo Brawner expressed the AFP’s support for the President’s amnesty proclamations, saying it will bring closure to hostilities, foster unity and reconciliation, and pave the way for lasting amity among Filipinos.

“The AFP is confident that the administration’s grant of amnesty will promote an atmosphere conducive to the attainment of a just, comprehensive and enduring equanimity as we collectively address other pressing challenges to our country,” he said.

For its part, the Philippine National Police said it “stands in full support of President Ferdinand R. Marcos Jr.’s comprehensive peace initiatives particularly the recent proclamations granting amnesty to rebels and insurgents. These actions, which reflects the administration’s unwavering commitment to national reconciliation and unity, represent a significant step towards bringing individuals involved in insurgent or rebel groups back into the fold of the law.”

The PNP is correct in pointing out that amnesty initiatives for former members of rebel groups would contribute significantly to fostering peace and stability in the nation: “Our commitment to safeguarding all citizens remains resolute as we actively support initiatives that foster harmony and understanding within our communities.”

From another direction, we have the Bangsamoro Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao also expressing its strong support for the grant of amnesty to the members of both the MILF and MILF: “This development is a significant milestone in the achievement of meaningful and enduring peace in the Bangsamoro, as this will form part of former combatants’ full transformation towards being productive and peace-loving Filipino citizens.”

The Moro National Liberation Front lauded the issuance of Proclamation 406 granting amnesty to its members who wish to return to the fold of the law as “it serves as a vehicle to ever-lasting unity, peace and reconciliation.”

Meanwhile, the Moro Islamic Liberation Front joined the MNLF in welcoming the amnesty offer to communist rebels and Muslim separatists. MILF Chairman Al Haj Murad Ebrahim said amnesty will “allow qualified former MILF combatants to get a new lease in life and seize the opportunity for healing and reconciliation.”

What the amnesty offer clearly signifies is that peace and order should be restored soon if we want political stability, economic growth and social concord to prevail in the years ahead.

(Email: ernhil@yahoo.com)

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