OPAPRU chief hopes amnesty proclamation out this August

By Priam Nepomuceno

August 1, 2023, 3:40 pm

<p>OPAPRU Secretary Carlito Galvez Jr. <em>(PNA file photo)</em></p>

OPAPRU Secretary Carlito Galvez Jr. (PNA file photo)

MANILA – Office of the Presidential Adviser on Peace, Reconciliation and Unity (OPAPRU) Secretary Carlito Galvez Jr. expressed optimism that the amnesty proclamation, announced by President Ferdinand R. Marcos Jr. during his second State Of the Nation Address (SONA), would be out sometime this month.

"So yung timeline po natin nito most likely, baka yung proclamation, magkakaroon po tayo ng proclamation this August, and then immediately, we will ask the Congress and the Senate to immediately ma-ratify po itong, ma-concur po itong proclamation so that we can immediately implement yung tinatawag nating, yung amnesty proclamations (In our timeline, most likely, the proclamations (would be out) this August, and then immediately, we will ask the Congress and the Senate to immediately ratify this, concur with this proclamation, so that we can immediately implement what we call amnesty proclamations)," Galvez said during a press conference of the National Task Force to End Local Communist Armed Conflict (NTF-ELCAC) on Tuesday.

Once the proclamation gets the concurrence of both chambers of Congress, Galvez said they will then publish the implementing rules and regulations (IRRs) and organize the local amnesty boards.

"After the local amnesty boards (are) fully organized and we can now receive (these amnesty applications) applications and also maybe ang National Amnesty Commission (NAC), through our office will also send yung mga safe conduct passes para sa ating mga former rebels na meron mga kaso (for those former rebels with pending cases)," he added.

Galvez also thanked the Presidential Management Staff for "initiating some of the actions right now with the directive of the President' to finalize the "language" and the "vetting of the Office of the President" of the comments of the different agencies consisting of the security, justice and peace sector regarding the "final language" of the proclamation.

"Saka binubuo pa rin kung, kung ilan po ang magiging duration kasi (we are still crafting the duration of the amnesty period), we are recommending na habaan po ang (to lengthen the) duration (of the) amnesty application kasi aayusin po kasi ang yung ating yung ating mga local amnesty boards (as we are still organizing the local amnesty boards)," the OPAPRU chief added.

During his second SONA, the Chief Executive said he will issue a proclamation granting amnesty to rebel returnees and requested the help of Congress to make it happen.

"To complete this reintegration process, I will issue a Proclamation granting amnesty to rebel returnees, and I ask Congress to support me in this endeavor," Marcos said.

A new proclamation is needed to extend the application process of the amnesty program, which lapsed in January this year.

The previous proclamations were issued during the time of former President Rodrigo R. Duterte.

Marcos earlier appointed Leah Tanodra-Armamento as chairperson and Jamar Kulayan and Nasser Marahomsalic as commissioners of the NAC.  

As this developed, Galvez said Marcos' proclamation of amnesty will "accelerate transformation of former rebels."

He added the proposed NAC is determined to fast-track the implementation of the government’s amnesty program for qualified members of revolutionary organizations, including the secessionist Moro National Liberation Front (MNLF) and the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF).

Galvez said the amnesty would not only “give former rebels relief for the crimes they have committed, but will provide an opportunity for them to rebuild their lives.”

"Nakikita nila (former rebels) ang sincerity ng government, offering civil protection while their offenses will also be extinguished (through this amnesty)," he explained.

Galvez, who is also an amnesty recipient in 1989 for joining a military coup against the late President Corazon Aquino, believed that aside from transforming former rebels’ lives, amnesty gives socio-economic programs that will help them sustain and improve their quality of life/

Meanwhile, NTF-ELCAC Executive Director Undersecretary Ernesto Torres Jr. said the amnesty will be the country's "vehicle towards the path of final victory" against insurgency.

With only an estimated 1,865 remaining listed members of the Communist Party of the Philippines-New People's Army- National Democratic Front (CPP-NPA-NDF), Torres said these "communist terrorist groups" (CTGs) will embrace the amnesty because of the “leadership vacuum” with the death of Jose Maria Sison or Joma and other top cadres, some of whom were already either perished or arrested in military and police encounters.

The local peace engagement (LPE), according to Torres, is also giving the CPP-NPA-NDF a hard time in taking back the support of residents whom they call “mass bases” in far-flung barangays, as the government is already pouring basic social services for peace and development 

The two officials believed that the road to lasting peace is already at hand as the Marcos administration is determined to move forward through inclusive and sustainable development under the principle of a “whole-of-nation” approach. (PNA)