By Filane Mikee Cervantes

Presidential Adviser on Peace, Reconciliation and Unity Secretary Carlito Galvez Jr. (File photo)

MANILA – Presidential Adviser on Peace, Reconciliation and Unity Secretary Carlito Galvez Jr. on Tuesday said the granting of amnesty to various rebel groups is a strong manifestation of President Ferdinand R. Marcos Jr.’s steadfast commitment to realize national reconciliation and unity among Filipinos.

During the joint hearing of the House committees on justice and national defense and security, Galvez said the granting of amnesty is an integral part of the comprehensive peace process.

He thanked the House for deliberating on resolutions concurring with the President’s amnesty proclamations, pointing out that these demonstrate the chamber’s support to the administration’s peace, reconciliation, and unity agenda.

Amnesty Proclamations 403, 404, 405, and 406 cover members of the Rebolusyonaryong Partido ng Manggagawa ng Pilipinas/Revolutionary Proletarian Army/Alex Boncayao Brigade (RPMP/RPA/ABB), Communist Party of the Philippines – New People’s Army – National Democratic Front (CPP-NPA-NDF), Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF), and Moro National Liberation Front (MNLF), respectively.

“It is a path toward normalization that would allow these 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,” Galvez said.

He said the government’s amnesty initiative serves as a tool to convince the former rebels that laying down their arms and returning to the fold of the law would be the right decision.

“We want to show them that good things come to those who choose to walk the path of peace,” he said.

He noted that those who are eligible to apply for amnesty under the existing proclamations are individual members of the MNLF, MILF, RPMP/RPA/ABB, and CPP-NPA-NDF who have committed crimes defined under the Revised Penal Code or special laws of the Philippines.

He, however, stressed that these amnesty proclamations do not give “blanket” amnesty to these former rebels, explaining that there are specific crimes that are covered and clearly defined under these proclamations.

“It is also important for the former rebels themselves to show remorse and admit to the crimes that they have committed, and in doing so, show that they have completely turned away from a life of violence and armed struggle,” he said.

He said while amnesty extinguishes any criminal liability for the acts covered by the amnesty grant and restores all civil and political rights suspended or lost due to criminal conviction, it does not remove the grantee’s civil liability for injuries or damages caused to private persons.

Galvez said the National Amnesty Commission (NAC) shall ensure the “expeditious but cautious” processing of amnesty applications of these former rebels.

“This is a delicate balancing act, as the commission will have to ensure the state’s obligation under international law to protect and promote human rights on one hand, and the government’ commitment to peace, reconciliation, and unity, on the other,” he said.

Galvez called for the passage of the concurrent resolutions to ensure that the government would be able to build and sustain the gains of peace throughout the country.

“And for our Filipino brothers and sisters who want to avail of amnesty, this is now your opportunity to finally build a peaceful, productive, and comfortable life for you and your families, which all of you rightfully deserve,” he said.

During the same hearing, the two House panels approved House Concurrent Resolution (HCR) Nos. 19, 20, 21, and 22, which sought to concur with the amnesty proclamations.

Speaker Martin Romualdez reiterated the chamber’s intention to adopt all four concurrent resolutions before the Christmas break.

“The timely adoption of these concurrent resolutions is attuned with the spirit of hope, peace, and joy that the Christmas season brings,” he said. (PNA)