NOT publicized was President Duterte’s signing last February 5 of four presidential proclamations granting amnesty to various rebel group. Duterte issued Presidential Proclamations 1090, 1091, 1092 and 1093 granting amnesty to the members of the Moro Islamic Liberation Front, Moro National Liberation Front, Rebolusyonaryong Partido ng Manggagawa ng Pilipinas/Revolutionary Proletarian Army/Alex Boncayao Brigade (RPMP-RPA-ABB) and the Communist Terrorist Groups (CTG).
Leyte Rep. Martin Romualdez, House majority leader, has assured the Palace that the House of Representatives will quickly adopt four resolutions concurring with these amnesty proclamation, as the House believes these moves will contribute much to the President’s initiatives for peace.
‘This amnesty is worth a try, as any move towards the attainment of peace is a welcome step in the right direction.’
Specifically, the amnesty gives a clean slate to members of these four rebel organizations who have committed crimes under the Revised Penal Code or special penal laws in pursuit of their political beliefs. Both the executive and legislative branches of government are convinced that through the offer of amnesty, which was reportedly requested by the erstwhile combatants themselves, the nation will inch nearer to the attainment of peace and stability, and move towards healing, reconciliation, and reintegration.
The Constitution gives the President the power to grant amnesty to offenders, with the concurrence of a majority of all the members of Congress. But this 2021 version of amnesty comes with many “colatillas” or requisites that it would not be easy to drum up support for it, even in the ranks of the rebels listed as potential beneficiaries.
First, the offer of amnesty is done without prejudice to the grantee’s civil liability for injuries or damage caused to private persons whose right to be indemnified is fully recognized by the government. The amnesty also will not cover crimes like kidnap for ransom, massacre, rape, terrorism and other crimes committed against chastity as defined in the Revised Penal Code as amended; crimes committed for personal ends and violations of the Comprehensive Dangerous Drugs Act of 2002. Also not covered are serious violations of the Geneva Conventions of 1949, and those identified by the United Nations as crimes not in the purview of amnesty declarations, such as genocide, crimes against humanity, war crimes, torture, enforced disappearances and gross violations of human rights.
We find the long list of offenses that are not covered by this amnesty as all-encompassing, considering that many of these crimes had been perpetrated in the course of their rebellion. This renders the particular amnesty offer by the Duterte administration somewhat oxymoronic. But if this is the best move that President Duterte can do to push his peace agenda before he finally relinquishes the presidency at the end of his term, then so be it.
This amnesty is worth a try, as any move towards the attainment of peace is a welcome step in the right direction.