Reds reject amnesty offer
The Communist Party of the Philippines (CPP) rejected on Friday the possibility of talking about an amnesty as offered by no less than Armed Forces of the Philippines Chief General Andres Centino.
“Centino’s amnesty proposal will be rejected by revolutionaries who are wholeheartedly committed to serving the oppressed and exploited masses,” CPP Chief Information Officer Marco Valbuena said in a statement on Friday.
Valbuena said the amnesty offer was just a “sugarcoated bullet.”
“It is a vain psywar attempt to draw public attention away from rampant cases of torture and extrajudicial killings, violation of women and child rights, hamletting of communities, aerial bombing and artillery shelling, perpetrated by soldiers in the drive to traumatize and terrorize the masses, and dispossess them of their lands and livelihood in favor of multinational corporations,” Valbuena said.
He said it was “grossly hypocritical” for Centino to talk about amnesty because he was “directly responsible” for the killings of New People’s Army (NPA) leaders Jorge Madlos in 2021, when Centino was Philippine Army chief, and Rogelio Posadas last April 20.
The CPP issued the statement after Centino said in a radio interview that he supported the grant of amnesty to former rebels as part of the government’s “multifaceted” approach in ending the country’s 54-year-old insurgency.
“I have advocated that other approaches of the government in dealing with insurgency should be considered, such as extending to them amnesty,” Centino said on Thursday in an interview with radio station dwDD, operated by AFP.
The AFP chief made the remark in connection with communist rebels who have returned to the fold of the law under the government’s Task Force Balik Loob (TFBL).
Centino said the task force was responsible for the surrender of 37,413 armed members of the NPA, the CPP’s armed wing, since 2016.
Of the 37,413 surrenderers, 10,637 have been given immediate livelihood, reintegration benefits, and firearms remuneration through the TFBL’s Enhanced Comprehensive Local Integration Program (E-Clip).
The immediate assistance granted to the former rebels amounted to P147.33 million. And the total amount of livelihood assistance provided by the TFBL’s partner agencies reached P322.85 million.
But Centino said NPA members were “quite apprehensive” about surrendering because they have been charged with terrorism offenses in court and were thus disqualified from amnesty under the Anti-Terrorism Act of 2020.
In 2021, the CPP-NPA and its international wing, National Democratic Front, designated “terrorist organizations” by the Anti-Terror Council. However, the case to proscribe them as terrorist groups remains pending at the Manila Regional Trial Court.
According to AFP spokesperson Col. Medel Aguilar, as of April, only 22 NPA guerilla fronts were remaining, with a little over 2,000 remaining members. Of these fronts, only two are active, while 20 are “already weakened.”
The CPP-NPA has been waging an armed struggle since 1969 and is considered the longest communist insurgency in the world.