By Filane Mikee Cervantes

SURRENDER. Former rebels in Northern Samar complete a basic literacy program in this May 2023 photo. Depending on the gravity of their offenses, former members of the Communist Party of the Philippines-New People’s Army-National Democratic Front may apply for the national government’s amnesty program. (Photo courtesy of Northern Samar provincial government)

MANILA – The National Amnesty Commission (NAC) anticipates about 100,000 former rebels to avail of President Ferdinand R. Marcos Jr.’s amnesty program.

At a news forum on Saturday, NAC Commissioner Nasser Marohomsalic said he expects the bulk of amnesty applicants to come from the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) and the Moro National Liberation Front (MNLF).

Marcos has issued several proclamations granting amnesty to members of the MILF, MNLF, and Rebolusyunaryong Partido ng Manggagawa ng Pilipinas / Revolutionary Proletarian Army / Alex Boncayao Brigade (RPMP-RPA-ABB), as well as former members of the Communist Party of the Philippines-New People’s Army-National Democratic Front (CPP-NPA-NDF) and their front organizations.

“Tentative po iyong numero na binigay sa amin (The number we gave is only tentative). About 100,000 will avail,” Marohomsalic said.

He explained that the amnesty process recently commenced following congressional concurrence of the presidential proclamations.

“So, ang alam namin libu-libo po ang nakalinya na mag-file ng application sa amin. The paperwork is being done by those organization granted amnesty. The MNLF, the MILF, the CPP and the Kapatiran and so, hinihintay po namin at huwag po natin madaliin (So, we are aware that there are thousands lined up to file applications with us. The paperwork is being done by those organization granted amnesty. The MNLF, the MILF, the CPP and the Kapatiran and we are waiting for them, so let’s not rush),” he said.

He added that the bulk of applications is expected to come in this month up to June.

The NAC has released the IRR for Amnesty Proclamation Nos. 403, 404, 405, and 406 issued by the Chief Executive this month.

Under the IRR, amnesty is defined as an “act of the sovereign power that abolishes criminal liability for past political offenses, overlooks, and obliterates the offense for which persons are charged and/or convicted, and allows these persons to stand before the law as though no offense has been committed.”

The granting of amnesty extinguishes any criminal liability for the acts subject to the amnesty grant and restores all civil and political rights suspended or lost by virtue of criminal conviction.

According to the NAC, individuals seeking amnesty must file their applications with any Local Amnesty Board (LAB), where they will have to undergo initial eligibility assessments.

The LAB will then forward its recommendations to the NAC, which will further review the amnesty applications and provide its recommendations to the President for final approval.

In cases where applicants face arrest warrants and want to personally submit their applications to the LAB, they can request a provisional safe conduct pass from the board in advance.

Meanwhile, individuals currently in detention facilities will receive assistance from supervisory officers to facilitate their applications.

Applicants residing abroad may apply for amnesty through the Philippine consulate in their current country of residence.

According to the NAC, the window for amnesty applications “spans two years from the effective dates of the Proclamations: March 4, 2024, for members of the RPMP-RPA-ABB, MILF, and MNLF, and March 13, 2024, for former members associated with the CPP-NPA-NDF and their front organizations.” (PNA)