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Arroyo files amnesty bill for political prisoners

By: - Reporter / @NikkoDizonINQ
/ 04:18 PM July 27, 2016
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New People’s Army rebels. AFP FILE PHOTO

MANILA — In a clear support to President Duterte’s promise to talk peace with the communist rebels, Pampanga Rep. Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo has filed a bill granting amnesty to political prisoners from the Communist Party of the Philippines (CPP) and those involved in past political conflicts.

House Bill No. 490 was practically a copy of Proclamation No. 1377 that Arroyo signed in 2007 when she was President.

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In both her presidential proclamation and the bill she filed on June 30, Arroyo explained the necessity of granting amnesty by saying:

“Accepting rebels back into the folds of the law through amnesty and eventually providing them access to the government’s existing socio-economic services, are essential to attaining peace and reconciliation in the country.”

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“There is an urgent need and expressed desire to extend amnesty to members of the CPP-New People’s Army (NPA)- National Democratic Front (NDF) and other individuals and groups involved in past political conflicts as an instrument of reconciliation and as a path to their return to a peaceful, democratic, and pluralistic society,” Arroyo said in both her bill and presidential proclamation.

But in her bill’s explanatory note, Arroyo added:

“An amnesty program is an integral component of the Duterte Government’s comprehensive peace efforts.”

The bill said the amnesty would cover those accused of rebellion and other crimes that were committed in pursuit of political beliefs, or “where the individual or group was accused because of political conflict.”

Those who are detained, charged, and convicted may file an application for amnesty, provided the crimes for which amnesty may be granted must have been committed on or before the date of effectivity of the bill.

The Arroyo bill also provides the amnesty will not be arbitrarily granted upon application.

It said that the National Committee on Social Integration (NCSI) will deliberate on the applications and would issue the corresponding Certificate of Amnesty to qualified applicants.

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The release of political prisoners in pursuit of reviving the peace talks with the communist insurgents was a campaign promise of President Duterte.

His administration began informal talks on the revival of the stalled negotiations with CPP founder Jose Ma. Sison even before Mr. Duterte was sworn into office on June 30.

The President declared a unilateral ceasefire effective immediately at his first State of the Nation Address (SONA) on Monday, in a bid to end the decades-long conflict with communist guerillas.  SFM

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