Basilan lawmaker bats for amnesty for all surrendering rebels
MANILA, Philippines — Deputy Speaker and Basilan Rep. Mujiv Hataman appealed to President Rodrigo Duterte to not limit the government’s amnesty program to members of only some rebel groups who wish to lay down arms and surrender.
Hataman said the government should take the peace process “a step further” and implement a “general amnesty” program.
“Ang pagbubukas natin ng pintuan sa mga rebelde at nais magbalik-loob sa lipunan ay isa talagang susi tungo sa kapayapaan. Proven na natin yan sa Basilan,” Hataman said in a statement.
(Opening our doors to rebels who want to surrender and reintegrate themselves to society is a key towards peace. We have proven that in Basilan.)
“But my question is: Do we include all those who have laid or want to lay down their arms in the amnesty proclamations? Kasama po ba ang ASG (Abu Sayyaf) at BIFF (Bangsamoro Islamic Freedom Fighters) sa programang ito?” the House leader added.
(Are ASG and BIFF included in this program?)
According to Hataman, many members of ASG and BIFF who have already surrendered are still being arrested and jailed since they are not covered by the amnesty program.
“Karamihan sa kanila, hindi ideolohiya ang dahilan sa pagsali: madami po ang napilitan lang dahil sa kanilang kalagayan sa buhay. Many of them had no choice. Can’t we give them a peaceful option now?” Hataman said.
(Many of them joined not because of ideology: Many of them were forced to join because of the state of their lives.)
Presidential peace adviser Carlito Galvez earlier said that amnesty applications can come from members of the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF), Moro National Liberation Front (MNLF), Communist Party of the Philippines–New People’s Army–National Democratic Front, Cordillera Bodong Administration–Cordillera People’s Liberation Army and Rebolusyonaryong Partidong Manggagawa ng Pilipinas/ Revolutionary Proletarian Army/Alex Boncayao Brigade- Tabara Paduano Group.
Hataman, who introduced and implemented the Program Against Violent Extremism (PAVE) in Basilan, hopes that members of the ASG and BIFF could be included in the program.
“I hope former members of ASG and BIFF will be included in the amnesty program. This will also boost our country’s fight against terrorism and violent extremism, and also a big leap towards peace,” Hataman said.
“Sa ngayon po, madami nang sumuko sa ASG dahil sa PAVE, pero hindi nawawala ang takot nila at pangamba kasi nga walang amnesty,” Hataman said.
(Right now, a lot of ASG members surrendered due to PAVE, but their fears remain because they are not covered by the amnesty.)
Duterte earlier formed the seven-member National Amnesty Commission (NAC) with the secretaries of defense, justice, and interior and local government and the presidential peace adviser as ex-officio members.
The body will be responsible for accepting, processing and approving applications for amnesty.
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