House panels concur with Marcos amnesty offer to ex-rebels
MANILA, Philippines — The Marcos administration’s recently announced amnesty program for former rebels is now a step closer to implementation after two House committees adopted four resolutions concurring with the offer of President Ferdinand Marcos Jr.
After a three-hour hearing on Tuesday, the House panels on justice and on national defense and security approved House Concurrent Resolution Nos. 19 to 22 expressing support for Presidential Proclamation Nos. 403 to 406.
The presidential adviser on the peace process, Carlito Galvez Jr., thanked the chamber for acting on the measures just days after Mr. Marcos announced the grant of amnesty to ex-communist and Moro separatist rebels.
Galvez said the government, through the National Amnesty Commission, will begin implementing the program once both chambers of Congress concur. “We will also begin drafting the implementing rules and regulations. We already have a draft but there will be certain changes with the comments of our lawmakers,” he said.
An estimated 9,900 former rebels are expected to benefit from the amnesty grants.
The retired Army general appealed to the public to “keep an open mind” about the amnesty grants, adding: “This is really for the Filipino people so that we can finally have peace in our land… This will have a good outcome because this is our commitment for lasting peace.”
In a statement, Speaker Martin Romualdez reiterated the House’s intention to adopt the concurrent resolutions before Congress goes on Christmas break from Dec. 16 to Jan. 21 next year.
The amnesty proclamations cover former members of the Rebolusyonaryong Partido ng Manggagawa ng Pilipinas, Revolutionary Proletarian Army, Alex Boncayao Brigade, Communist Party of the Philippines (CPP), New People’s Army (NPA), National Democratic Front of the Philippines (NDFP), Moro Islamic Liberation Front and Moro National Liberation Front.
At Tuesday’s hearing, Galvez justified the amnesty grants as a “confidence-building measure” and a “clear and strong manifestation of the President’s steadfast commitment to realize national reconciliation.’’
“[It] would allow former rebels not only to fully reintegrate themselves into mainstream society as peaceful, productive and law-abiding citizens but more importantly enable them to rebuild their lives and ensure a better future for themselves and their families,” he said.
According to Galvez, he and presidential assistant Wilben Mayor, a retired police general, may be considered “living proof” of how amnesties can turn lives around.
In a message later sent to the Inquirer, Mayor said he and Galvez were both involved in the 1989 coup attempt against then-President Cory Aquino but were later granted amnesty by her successor, Fidel Ramos.
“We we’re young lieutenants then,’’ Mayor recalled.
The House panels adopted the resolutions despite the reservations expressed by the Makabayan lawmakers.
“Would-be amnesty grantees are enticed to surrender, and thereafter trapped in a web of self-incrimination,” warned Gabriela Rep. Arlene Brosas.
“They are obliged or forced to admit to membership in the CPP, NPA, and NDFP and the latter’s so-called front organizations of having committed a number of antigovernment actions, which may include activities that do not involve the use of arms.
This provision basically restores Republic Act No. 1700 or the Anti-Subversion Act, which penalizes mere membership in the CPP, NPA, or NDFP, regardless of actual participation in rebellious activities,” Brosas said during the hearing.