Northern Samar gov seeks amnesty for communist rebels | Inquirer News

Northern Samar gov seeks amnesty for communist rebels

/ 04:40 AM October 16, 2023

Northern Samar gov condemns NPA ambush on AFP personnel

Northern Samar Gov. Edwin Ongchuan | PHOTO: League of Provinces of the Philippines

TACLOBAN CITY—Northern Samar Gov. Edwin Ongchuan is pushing for the implementation of an amnesty program for New People’s Army (NPA) rebels who want to return to the fold of the law in a bid to help the government address the insurgency problem in the province.

The governor, whose province is considered to be the last remaining frontier of the communist movement in Eastern Visayas, said many NPA rebels want to surrender but hesitated for fear of getting charged in court.


“Many are willing to surrender, but they don’t want to get arrested. The amnesty program will convince more of them to abandon the armed struggle and join the government’s peace and development efforts,” Ongchuan said.


President Marcos, in his State of the Nation Address last July, announced he would sign a proclamation granting amnesty to rebels involved in armed struggle but has not given a timetable when it would happen.

Interior Secretary Benhur Abalos, in a meeting with the Joint Task Force to End Local Communist Armed Conflict in Eastern Visayas last Oct. 2, promised to relay the concerns of Ongchuan and other local officials before government agencies like the Department of Justice.

“This issue is one of the solutions. However, there are many things we need to consider, including the legal aspect,” he said.

Alma Gabin, a former ranking member of the Communist Party of the Philippines (CPP) in Eastern Visayas who is now in military custody since she surrendered in 2021, said an amnesty program would encourage her erstwhile comrades to lay down their arms.

Gabin, who was the education head of the CPP’s Eastern Visayas Regional Party Committee, faced 15 criminal cases involving murder and frustrated murder, most of which had been provisionally dismissed due to the nonappearance of complainants and witnesses.

Gabin, 38, was arrested in Tolosa town of Leyte province in 2020. She was held for 10 months in a subprovincial jail in Northern Samar where her group operated.


At least 35 former rebels from Northern Samar recently received financial aid from the government through the Enhanced Comprehensive Livelihood Program, a government initiative aiming to provide a package of benefits and assistance for those who decided to return to the fold of the law.

Top priority

The province has made its fight against insurgency as a top priority, especially since Northern Samar still has two active NPA guerilla fronts.

The provincial government is building 200 single-detached houses for former communist rebels in Mondragon town to encourage more NPA members to lead a normal life.

Ongchuan said the local government has completed building a model house and is now looking for additional funds for the proposed “Kauswagan (prosperity) Village” in Mondragon, with each house costing from P450,000 to P500,000 to build.

Since 2019, at least 159 communist rebels in Northern Samar have surrendered to the authorities.

Ongchuan said these former rebels had been prioritized to benefit from the housing project.

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At present, there are 23 families of former rebels living in temporary shelters built on site while waiting for the completion of housing units. INQ

TAGS: amnesty for rebels, communist rebels, New People's Army

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