AFP chief backs amnesty for ex-NPA rebels
MANILA, Philippines — Armed Forces chief of staff Gen. Andres Centino backs giving amnesty to former members of the New People’s Army, saying other approaches in eradicating the longest-standing communist insurgency in the world should also be explored.
“I have advocated that other approaches of the government in dealing with insurgency should be considered, such as giving amnesty,” Centino said in a statement as he noted that some NPA members are apprehensive about surrendering due to their pending cases in court.
Centino also encouraged Filipinos to accept former rebels he deemed to be “friends rescued.”
“By achieving the goal of really creating an environment of enduring peace, I think that will be the victory of the Filipino people, then we will have progress and development that we, for so long, deserve,” Centino said. “With peace, there is progress.”
Centino made the statement as the Task Force Balik Loob (TFBL) recently reported their accomplishments.
The task force has said that since 2016, a total of 37,413 “former rebels” and “former violent extremists” have returned to the folds of the law.
Of the surrenderees, 10,637 have been presented with immediate livelihood, reintegration benefits, and firearms remuneration through the TFBL’s Enhanced Comprehensive Local Integration Program.
However, the task force was not without controversy, as leftist organizations accused the government of using fake surrenderees in a bid to prop up the program.
Meanwhile, the Commission on Human Rights also welcomed the TFBL’s report.
“The Commission on Human Rights commends these developments and supports the government’s efforts to handle armed conflict through peaceful means,” CHR said in a statement on Thursday.
CHR said the amnesty program shows that the NPA-led insurgency “can be addressed without bloodshed and human rights abuses by targeting the causes of conflict, such as poverty, unequal treatment, and marginalization.”
Established on March 29, 1969, the NPA has around 2,112 forces with 1,800 weapons in its arsenal, according to military estimates.