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The Fate of Former Bohol Rebels
« on: October 06, 2007, 01:39:24 PM »
Reported by Rey Anthony Chiu
Philippine Information Agency
Bohol Correspondent


The fate of former Bohol rebels seeking to go mainstream now lies in the hands of Congress.

This as President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo, after issuing presidential proclamation 1377 has officially asked for a Congressional concurrence so the law could take effect and open up the floodgates of national reconciliation.

Here, at least 185 rebels who have abandoned the armed struggle await in bated breath the concurrence so they could be spared from warrant-less arrests while their amnesty papers are under process.

National Peace Adviser, Secretary Jesus Dureza, shared the President’s concern and also echoed to Congress the necessity to re-grant the amnesty program as soon.

By Proclamation No. 1377, the Arroyo administration bridged again the gap towards attaining peace and reconciliation in the country by granting amnesty to members of the Communist Party of the Philippines-New Peoples’ Army-National Democratic Front (CPP-NPA-NDF) and other communist rebel groups.

The move was seen by many as an offshoot to the Local Peace and Security Assemble in Bohol where Visayans impressed upon the national government the need to prepare the way to peace.
 
Campaigning for support via a series of briefings with members of the House of Representatives, including a recent roundtable forum that the Konrad Adenauer Foundation jointly organized with Congress last week, Secretary Dureza highlighted the gains of the comprehensive peace process, including the details of Proc. No. 1377 and the amnesty’s regulations.

Also in Malacañang recently, President Arroyo stressed that Proc. No. 1377 – which shall take effect upon concurrence by a majority of the members of Congress – is part of the Social Integration Program (SIP) for former rebels as provided under Administrative Order No. 172, which she issued last March 23.

In the A.O. No. 172, the principal body at the national level that would coordinate and monitor the implementation of Proc. No. 1377 is the National Committee on Social Integration (NCSI) under the Office of the Presidential Adviser on the Peace Process (OPAPP).

During a mid-September board meeting in Malacañang with members of the National Economic Development Authority (NEDA), President Arroyo emphasized that the amnesty proclamation would be “essential to attaining peace and reconciliation.”

In issuing Proc. 1377, President Arroyo stressed that “accepting rebels back into the folds of the law through amnesty, and eventually providing them access to the government’s existing socio-economic services, are essential to attaining peace and reconciliation in the country.”

DETAILS OF PROCLAMATION 1377

Sec. Dureza revealed that under the proclamation, the DILG would accept the communist rebels’ applications for amnesty and then submit these to OPAPP.

“Amnesty is an instrument of reconciliation, aside from being a path for the communist rebels’ return to a peaceful, democratic, and pluralistic society,” Sec. Dureza said.

Further, he disclosed that the proclamation provides that at the local level, Amnesty Centers would be established under the Peace and Order Councils (POCs) of provinces and cities.

He said such POCs would be composed of the provincial or city prosecutor’s office as chair, and representatives from the Integrated Bar of the Philippines (IBP), the DILG, the Philippine National Police (PNP), the brigade/battalion level of the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) in the area, and OPAPP as members.

After filing an application under oath with the NCSI and the provincial or city POC Amnesty Centers within six months from the proclamation’s effectivity, the qualified rebel applicant will then be issued a Certificate of Amnesty from the NCSI upon due deliberation, Dureza said.

Moreover, he said a safe conduct pass will be issued to a person who applies for amnesty, unless that person is detained pursuant to law.  The safe conduct pass that the provincial or city POC Amnesty Centers would issue to the communist rebel applicant will then provide the latter with immunity from warrantless arrests for offenses covered under the proclamation, Dureza added.

“The amnesty covers the crime of rebellion and all other crimes included therein or incident thereto in pursuit of political belief as defined by jurisprudence, whether punishable under the Revised Penal Code or special laws,” Dureza quoted Section 2 of the proclamation as saying.

Not covered under the proclamation are crimes against chastity, rape, torture, kidnapping for ransom, use and trafficking of illegal drugs and other crimes for personal ends and violations of international law or convention and protocols, even if alleged to have been committed in pursuit of political beliefs.


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