Lower House adopts four resolutions granting amnesty to rebel groups

Published May 19, 2021, 6:22 PM

by Ben Rosario

The House of Representatives on Wednesday, May 19 adopted four resolutions supporting the grant of amnesty to members of four rebel groups, thus, putting in near realization President Rodrigo Duterte’s peace program that will reintegrate those affected to civilian life.

House Concurrent Resolution 12, 13, 14 and 15 received unanimous support although a handful House members thumbed down HCR 13 and 15.

Majority Leader and Leyte 1st District Rep. Martin G. Romualdez lauded fellow lawmakers for helping the country pursue peace by voting for the adoption of the legislative measures.

HCR 12 granting amnesty to members of the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) was adopted with 192 “yes” votes; zero “no” and one abstention.

On the other hand, HCR 13 referring to amnesty to be granted to the Moro National Liberation Front (MNLF) registered 195 affirmative and two negative votes. A lone abstention was also registered.

A total 197 House members voted to adopt HCR 14 extending amnesty to members of the Rebolusyonaryong Partido ng Manggagawa ng Pilipinas/ Rebolusyonaryong Partido ng Manggagawa ng Pilipinas/ Revolutionary Proletarian Army/Alex Boncayao Brigade (RPMP-RPA-ABB). The measure did not get any negative vote while one solon did not participate in the voting.

` Six members of the Makabayan Bloc were joined by Quezon City 6th District Rep. Kit Belmonte in rejecting HCR 15 which proposes to grant amnesty to so-called Communist Terrorist Group.

However, 191 “yes” votes resulted to HCR 15’s adoption.

Romualdez, chairman of the House Committee on Rules, said the adoption is expected to enhance the Duterte administration’s reconciliation and peace building efforts by welcoming rebels who will lay down their arms and return to the fold of the law.

Romualdez, one of the principal authors of the four resolutions, said granting amnesty to the four rebel groups is the Lower House’s “way of showing support and putting to flesh” of President Duterte’sa aspiration to “restore peace and stability in our homeland.” Aside from Romualdez, Speaker Lord Allan Velasco and Minority Leader and Abang Lingkod Partylist Rep. Joseph Stephen Paduano were listed as principal authors of the legislative proposals.

Romualdez explained that adoption of the four concurrent resolutions will result to the full implementation of Presidential Proclamations Nos. 1090, 1091, 1092 and 1093 granting amnesty to the four rebel organizatios.

“I now appeal to our brothers and sisters who are eligible to avail of this amnesty offer. It is high time to abandon the armed struggle and take advantage of the amnesty program offered by the President,” Romualdez said.

Out of the amnesty loop are members of the Communist Party of the Philippines-New Peoples Army-National Democratic Front (CPP-NPA-NDF).

In rejecting HCR No. 15, Belmonte pointed out that amnesty cannot be granted the CTG because there has not been a political settlement of its differences with the government.

“Wala pang political settlement, wala pang peace talks, hindi pwede magbigay ng amnesty. (There has been no political settlement, no peace talks, amnesty cannot be granted),” said Belmonte.

He said granting amnesty to a terrorist group may not be acceptable to Filipinos.

Gabriela Partylist Rep. Arlene Brosas said the group described as “CTG” is “non-existent, fictional” “HCR 015 refers to former rebels of the communist terrorist group which was merely coined by the government security forces. How can it grant amnesty to a fictional entity?” Brosas asked.